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WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals are known for taking a cautious approach with injured players, which was evident in the famous Stephen Strasburg shutdown during the club's 2012 playoff appearance.
That conservative approach has also been the case to a lesser extent the past few days for right-hander Max Scherzer.
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Scherzer, bothered by a sore neck, has not pitched since Aug. 13 at home against the San Francisco Giants.
The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner had hoped to pitch at home Sunday night against the New York Mets in the second game of a day-night doubleheader.
However, the Nationals held him back. They plan to have Scherzer come off the disabled list to start at home Monday against the red-hot Miami Marlins, who suddenly are talking of a wild-card run.
Scherzer (12-5, 2.25 ERA) will be opposed by Miami's Jose Urena (12-5, 3.68).
The Marlins (66-63) beat the San Diego Padres 6-2 on Sunday, with Giancarlo Stanton's 50th homer of the season breaking an eighth-inning tie.
"They are playing pretty good baseball," Washington manager Dusty Baker said late Sunday night of the Marlins.
Miami, which is 4 1/2 games behind the Colorado Rockies in the chase for the second NL wild card, will need to be ready for Scherzer.
"We beat him before, so we've just got to stick to our plan," Stanton said Sunday in Miami of facing Scherzer. "He's a workhorse out there, but we've got to stick to our plan."
Scherzer threw a bullpen session at Nationals Park on Friday and told the training staff he was fine. Scherzer played catch Saturday, and at around 12:15 p.m. Sunday, he stood in the grass in right field and threw off flat ground for several minutes before the day-night doubleheader with the Mets.
Washington beat the Mets 5-4 in the nightcap after dropping the opener 6-5.
Scherzer is 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 13 career starts against the Marlins. He has allowed 69 hits in 82 2/3 innings against Miami.
He has started three games against the Marlins this season, going 0-1 despite a 1.13 ERA.
Stanton is 4-for-15 (.267) with two homers in his career against Scherzer. The Marlins slugger has more homers than any opposing player at Nationals Park and has been on fire in August: 17 homers, 35 RBIs a .394 average.
"I've never seen anybody in person as locked in as Mikey is right now," said Christian Yelich, another Marlins outfielder.
Miami's Marcell Ozuna also has two homers in his career against Scherzer, though he is hitting only .200 (5-for-25) against him.
Urena has made one start in his career against Washington. It came in Miami on July 31, and he was the hard-luck 1-0 loser while allowing just one run in eight innings. Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez took a no-hitter into the ninth inning of that game.
Urerna has made six additional appearances against Washington in relief, and he is 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA in the seven games overall.
Urena has limited experience against Washington hitters. Daniel Murphy (0-for-7) and Howie Kendrick (1-for-7) have struggled against him.
Washington (78-51) will now face a Marlins team that has one of the best four records in the majors over the past few months.
"It's a new gear for us and one we've got to keep pushing," Stanton said of the wild-card surge. "We're doing good but we can do better, and we need to do better to get there."