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NEW YORK — Mets pitcher Max Scherzer is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks with a strained oblique muscle in his left side, the latest blow to a New York pitching staff already missing ace Jacob deGrom.
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, had an MRI on Thursday, a day after he pulled himself from a start against the St. Louis Cardinals with a 1-1 count on Albert Pujols in the sixth inning after feeling "a zing" in his left side.
New York said the scan detected a moderate-to-high grade strain of the internal oblique, a musle on the side that causes pain over the ribcage. Despte the injuries, the Mets lead the NL East by seven games, matching their season high.
"It's a great opportunity for guys that we're talking about bringing in here," manager Buck Showalter said after a come-from-behind 7-6 win over St. Louis. "Got some guys that will meet us in Denver and try to hold fort. We got some rough estimates about when we'll start to get some of these guys back."
Scherzer, a 37-year-old right-hander is 5-1 with a 2.54 ERA in eight starts after signing a $130 million, three-year contract with the Mets. An eight-time All-Star, Scherzer has struck out 59 and walked 11 in 49 2/3 innings.
"He's been pitching with a blister issue, the thing with the baseball — the seams are different," Showalter said before the game. "That's one of the reasons why he really struggled with his breaking ball, to command it, because he was trying to keep from ripping that open again."
Scherzer is 195-98 with 3.15 ERA in 15 major league seasons. He won the 2013 AL Cy Young Award with Detroit and the 2016 and 2017 NL Cy Youngs with Washington.
He has been durable, topping 200 innings annually from 2014-18. His last signficant stretch out was in 2019, when he was limited to one start between June 30 and Aug. 22 by an inflamed bursa sac in his back/shoulder and then a mild rhomboid strain.
"It sucks to hear about Max, but we're going to battle and play hard behind whoever is going to throw the ball for us," Peter Alonso said after his 10th-inning, two-run homer lifted the Mets.
DeGrom has been out since spring training because of a right scapula stress reaction, and he is not likely to pitch for the Mets until late June or July at the earliest. Tylor Megill went on the 15-day injured list Sunday with right biceps inflammation.
David Peterson probably will be called up from Triple-A Syracuse to join a rotation that includes Chris Bassitt (4-2 2.34), Carlos Carrasco (3-1, 3.73) and Taijuan Walker (1-0, 3.52).
Peterson, a 26-year-old left-hander, is 1-0 with 1.89 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance for the Mets this season and 2-1 with a 4.02 ERA in three starts at Triple-A.
Trevor Williams, a 30-year-old right-hander who is 0-2 with a 4.20 ERA in two starts and four relief appearances, could enter the rotation. Another possibility is 25-year-old left-hander Thomas Szapucki, 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA in six start at Syracuse with 29 strikeouts and nine walks in 21 innings.
In addition to the starting pitchers, catcher James McCann is sidelined until late June or early July while recovering from a broken hamate in his left wrist. Relievers Sean Reid-Foley (Tommy John surgery) and Trevor May (right triceps inflammation) also are hurt.
After the MRI, Scherzer returned to the clubhouse for a ceremony honoring shortstop Eduardo Escobar, who reached 10 years of major league service.
"Max led the conversation, the presentation," Showalter said. "This is a chance to shine instead of a chance to pull the dirt around you. It's what you're supposed to be good at."