So Scherzer pitched in a simulated game yesterday. A brief pause here to throw out some definitions.
BP (Batting Practice) - Pitchers throw off the ground at like 2/3rds speed to hitters who take cut after cut. Can help with stamina build up but not much more.
Live BP - Pitchers throw their real stuff off a mound to batters who take cut after cut.
In both BP and Live BP the team can choose what it wants to do defensively. You can have 8 guys in the outfield shagging flies and grabbing grounders that go through an empty infield, or you can set-up your game ready D and let them play each batted ball if it were a real hit.
Simulated Game - A pitcher faces a set of teammates who treat at bats as if they were in the game - 4 balls a walk, 3 strikes an out, etc. It usually is only a small subset of batters - not 9 - who rotate around. Because of that you often don't bother with real runners or real fielders for that matter, and you kind of guess what would have happened which each batted ball. For example Max faced Jose Lobataon, Raudy Read and Wilmer Difo.
Up to this point you are facing your own teammates and thus they might be taking it easy on you or you can tell them to let certain things go by now and again.
"Minor League Game" - The Spring Training equivalent of pitching in the minors. Right now all those minor leaguers are gearing up for the AAA, AA and single A seasons too. They play games just like the major leaguers. You send your major league pitcher over to one of these games and let him throw a few innings. It's real competition, though not major league level and in Spring so... yeah.
Grapefruit/Cactus League Game - A regular Spring Training game, meaning you'll face at least a few major league starters along with a mix of back-ups and minor leaguers. Again it's Spring so the competition level is low but it's the best you'll get until the last week of Spring when teams start working on getting their actual everyday lineups ready.
Ok we're back. So reading through those definitions and you can see why a simulated game matters but why it's far from telling in terms of development. What I will allow though is that you can bring back those dreams of Max starting in that first rotation set. It's the bar I had before and he met it. There wasn't a word of negativity from the people watching him and more importantly the next outing is another step in the right direction. I still think personally he'll miss a start or two at least getting fully ready, but it's not impossible as I think it would be if he was still throwing BP.
Next step for Max is as close to real rotation work as he has gotten. Four days off and then a game, a minor league game, but a game. As Castillo points out in the article - the earliest that a "real game" could be would be the 22nd, which would give him 11 days to build up arm strength from what would likely be at most a 4 inning / 50 pitch type outing to major league ready. That's less time than needed for two starts with regular rest inbetween. That seems tough. Slotting in at the #5 spot would give him 16 days. Seems more reasonable.
Norris was waived. Seems like they couldn't find a partner given Norris' contract. It's not a terrible contract but the market seems to dictate it could be a bit lower. This waiving saves the Nats millions, which cuts into the Wieters money. Keeping Norris is probably the smarter move. Wieters is two years removed from a 75 game season, three years from a 26 game one. Last year was much better. He had an elbow issue that cleared up before the season started and missed a handful of games after fouling a ball off his foot. That's it. But the history is there. However this was always going to happen.
Still can't tell. Classic closer situation yesterday and Neal Cotts got the save despite Kelley and Treinen not pitching for days.
See last week. Clint's been used like any other back-up and he's been pretty stinky. Cuts have finally started last week with more today so expect Closer and Clint Updates to be more worthwhile next week maybe.
Bryce smacked his 5th homer of the Spring. We've talked about it in previous years, how there's some evidence that power break-throughs might in Spring might have meaning in the regular season but the evidence is shaky. I suppose it's better than everything else though where the evidence is non-existant.
At this point you only look for really special cases. Guys who can't do anything or can't make a mistake in a decent amount of at bats. Something more than a series. So you might hear about Solano soon. Who you will hear about now is Zimm who in 15 ABs still doesn't have a hit. Also of note is Adam Lind who's struck out 8 times in 22 ABs. Does that matter? I don't know. I'm not worried about Werth (6K in 16) but then again I know Werth. An up in K rate was an issue for Lind so it's something to keep an eye on but remember last year Espinosa K'd a lot and didn't hit and put up... well not a good year but a year that was pretty much exactly what we'd expect from him. So no reason to think Lind can't do the same.