Max Scherzer’s return to the Mets may be right around the corner.
The right-hander threw a three-inning, 50-pitch simulated game Thursday afternoon as he continues to work his way back from a left oblique strain he suffered on May 18.
“Did it exactly the way I thought I was gonna do it, with the second inning being the highest intensity inning,” Scherzer said. “Felt good the entire time. Threw all my pitches. Everything’s good.”
Scherzer, who faced catcher Patrick Mazeika and two minor leaguers, said he will re-evaluate how he feels shortly before first pitch Thursday night. If he still feels good — and nothing has tightened up — he would be in line to make a rehab start next Tuesday, staying on a five-day routine.
Manager Buck Showalter only watched the first inning-and-a-half of Scherzer’s outing, but came away optimistic.
“It looked like it was going well so I left,” Showalter said. “I’ll tell you one thing about Max, he simulated a game very well. He was into it. You could tell how much he enjoyed being back out on the mound here at Citi Field. So I thought it went well. Hopefully, he feels well [Friday] and we’re able to take the next step.”
The initial prognosis on Scherzer’s injury — diagnosed as a “moderate to high-grade” strain — called for a six to eight week timeline. Right now, the 37-year-old appears to be ahead of schedule — he recently received a platelet-rich plasma injection to help accelerate the healing.
But Scherzer reiterated the need to proceed with caution, calling his oblique strain a “tricky injury.”
“I’d love to tell you that I can do one rehab start, that I’ll feel great and I can come back,” said Scherzer, who is 5-1 with a 2.54 ERA across eight starts this season. “I’d love to say I can do that. Is it possible? Yes.
“But the reality is I can very easily have a rehab start, have it be tight and want to actually do it again before I go into a game. I’m very aware of working through this injury, really focused on not having a setback.”
Scherzer cautioned that new thresholds — among them intensities and pitch counts, which each add work capacity to the oblique — pose the next challenge in his comeback.
And though it’s unclear if he will require multiple rehab appearances, Scherzer said that he does not need to fully stretch out before rejoining the big-league club.
“If I can get back here throwing 70, 80 pitches, give me the ball,” Scherzer said.