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Max Scherzer scratched from scheduled start Tuesday due to neck spasms

The Mets ace has also been battling shoulder discomfort, but is determined to play through it. David Peterson will start against the Reds in Scherzer’s place.

Max Scherzer of the New York Mets rest between batters while pitching against the Detroit Tigers during the second inning of game two of a doubleheader at Comerica Park on May 3, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The New York Mets have been seemingly unable to get out of their own way of late, and the latest bit of bad news came on Tuesday: Max Scherzer has been scratched from his scheduled start against the Cincinnati Reds due to what the team is calling neck spasms.

David Peterson will start in Scherzer’s place, while the team has yet to offer any sort of timetable for when Scherzer might make his next start.

This injury is reportedly unrelated to the shoulder discomfort Scherzer told reporters he’s been battling through in recent weeks, and the Mets don’t seem too concerned about a prolonged absence. Still, it’s yet another red flag in a season full of them for the 38-year-old, who was roughed up by the Detroit Tigers last time out to the tune of six runs in just 3.1 innings — all while his fastball showed notably diminished velocity. The righty has struggled mightily when he’s been available this year, with a 5.56 ERA in five starts so far.

It comes at a disastrous time for the Mets, who’ve lost their last four series along with nine of their last 12 games to fall under .500 on the year. They enter play Tuesday already seven games back of the red-hot Atlanta Braves, and injuries to their starting rotation have been a major reason why. Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Carlos Carrasco and Jose Quintana — 80 percent of the team’s planned starting rotation — have combined to throw just 41.1 innings so far this season, while replacements like Peterson, Tylor Megill, Jose Butto and Joey Lucchesi have struggled in their stead.

Verlander has hopefully put his shoulder troubles behind him and Carrasco is set to make a rehab start later this week, but New York is digging itself quite a hole. And in any event, it’s hard to envision the Mets making a run to the World Series with a compromised Scherzer.