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Early exit a ‘precautionary move’

Max Scherzer threw a season-high 112 pitches last Sunday in his 19th start of the season.

On Saturday, starting on an extra day of rest, Scherzer threw a season-low 67 pitches before leaving the Mets’ game feeling “fatigued on his left side” after just five innings.

The 38-year-old Scherzer missed seven weeks earlier this season with a strained left oblique — after he tried to push through after feeling tightness in his left side during a start — but he said this issue was different and that he expects to make his next start next weekend.

“Just had general fatigue on the left side,” Scherzer said after the Mets lost to the Nationals 7-1 at Citi Field. “Wasn’t anything specific, I don’t have any strains, it’s just left side was getting tired a lot quicker than usual. So this was a precautionary move, given the history of the oblique.

“Was there a scenario where I could go out there and pitch the sixth and be OK? Yeah, that could have happened. But if I went out there in the sixth and got hurt, there’s no way I could come in here and look the guys in the face and say I made the right decision. Better to be safe than sorry in this scenario.”

Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer
N.Y. Post: Michelle Farsi

The fact that there are just 28 games left in the regular season also played a factor in Scherzer’s decision to err on the side of caution.

“You just couldn’t take any risks, especially where the calendar’s at,” Scherzer said. “There’s no time left to re-ramp back up. So I think that played just as much of an important factor in coming out after five.”

Scherzer, who gave up a solo home run in the first inning, but retired the final seven batters he faced, began feeling the fatigue in the fourth inning. When it didn’t go away in the fifth inning, “that’s when the calculus changed,” he said.

The veteran right-hander said he did not think he was scheduled to undergo any tests on his left side.

“You never know, they might want to just take a picture,” Scherzer said. “But there’s nothing that happened. I didn’t throw a weird pitch, I didn’t have anything go, nothing tightened up. I just had general fatigue overall on my left side. That’s where you can run into an injury is when you’re pitching through fatigue. So that was the reason to come out.”

In 12 starts since coming back from the strained oblique on July 5, Scherzer owns a 2.22 ERA with 94 strikeouts and 12 walks across 78 innings.

The Mets were on the verge of getting their full rotation back on Sunday, when Carlos Carrasco is set to come off the injured list after dealing with a strained oblique of his own. But the Mets believe that Scherzer’s early exit on Saturday won’t necessarily throw a wrench into that plan.

“Let this get some days off and I should be feeling good pretty soon,” said Scherzer, who will have an extra day of rest before his next turn through the rotation because the Mets have Thursday off.

Manager Buck Showalter made it clear that Scherzer did not ask to come out of the game, but that the team made the decision after getting his feedback.

“Max is very good about understanding the big picture,” Showalter said. “He’s as good as it gets. That’s why he’s done the things he’s done, as far as knowing himself. … He was very frank about what he was feeling and we reacted to what a really good pitcher that knows himself said.”

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