MIAMI (AP) — Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer will likely be scratched from his next scheduled start Tuesday at Atlanta because of a sprained right thumb.

The right-hander threw off flat ground before Sunday's game at Miami but said his thumb is still sore. He jammed it batting Thursday against St. Louis.

"We'll probably have to make an adjustment on Tuesday," manager Matt Williams said. "I don't anticipate him missing more than one turn, but again you don't know."

The rotation shake-up comes at a bad time for the defending NL East champions, who lost their fifth game in a row Sunday. Williams said he didn't know yet who would replace Scherzer against the Braves.

Scherzer said his thumb is improving every day, and when he threw, it felt better than he anticipated. But he said he learned playing at the University of Missouri not to rush back from an injury.

"I had a cut on my middle finger, and I went back out there and pitched through the pain," he said. "A couple of weeks later I had bicep tendinitis and almost messed up my shoulder. So I really respect the fact that you have to be 100 percent to go back out there, and in this case that's how I'm going to treat it."

Scherzer said he wants to be able to throw all of his pitches without pain before he returns.

"Any type of discomfort is going to alter the way I throw the ball," he said. "If I alter the way I throw the ball, I run the risk of major injury to my arm."

Scherzer, the winner of the AL Cy Young Award in 2013 with Detroit, is 1-2 with a 1.26 ERA in four starts.