Max Scherzer takes the mound for the Nationals in Game 5 after a poor outing to start the series. Getty

Max Scherzer was great again Wednesday night when he pitched six shutout innings against the New York Mets, and once again, it was all for naught. The Washington Nationals surrendered six runs in the eighth inning of a 6-1 defeat at Citi Field, extending the team’s losing streak to four games and dropping them 11 games below .500.

Wednesday was the fourth time in May that Scherzer tossed a quality start and the Nationals were unable to pull out a win. Scherzer is just 2-5 in the 2019 MLB season despite ranking sixth among NL pitchers with a 2.2 WAR.

The Miami Marlins are the only NL team with a worse record than Washington. The Nationals trail the Philadelphia Phillies by nine games for first place in the division. Washington is 7.5 games out of the wild-card race, and their hopes of being a playoff contender are fading fast, even with more than two-thirds of the schedule yet to be played.

The trade speculation regarding Washington’s best players has already begun. It will only increase if the team continues to be among the worst in baseball. Anthony Rendon is the most obvious candidate to be dealt since he’s set to become a free agent in the offseason. Scherzer isn’t far behind him, considering the kind of haul he could bring back for the Nationals.

Washington became sellers last August when their postseason hopes were lost. They had trade talks regarding Bryce Harper and nearly sent him to the Houston Astros. Because the team already owes a ton of money to younger starters like Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin for the foreseeable future, it’s not unreasonable to think the Nationals would at least consider an offer for their ace.

MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal said on "MLB Central" Thursday morning that the Nationals will probably end up being sellers this summer, though he was skeptical that the team would trade Scherzer. Any suitor might have to blow Washington away with an offer.

Contenders will be lining up for Scherzer if he does indeed becomes available at the right price. The New York Yankees would make as much sense as anyone to be a trade partner for Washington.

More than two months ahead of the July 31 trade deadline,’s Andy Martino reported that the Yankees already had their eyes set on upgrading their starting rotation. New York has overcome a rash of injuries to post MLB’s best record since mid-April and take over first place in the AL East. The team still probably needs another starter to feel great about their chances in October.

Ace Luis Severino probably won’t make his season debut until after the All-Star break, and he’s looking more and more like a pitcher the Yankees can’t count on this season because of his multiple injuries. Domingo German probably won’t lead the AL in wins for the entire season. Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia and James Paxton are all quality starters, but none of them are true aces.

Scherzer is the definition of an ace. He’s probably been the best pitcher in baseball over the last six years. In addition to winning the Cy Young award in 2013, 2016 and 2017, he finished fifth in the voting in 2014 and 2015 to go along with a second-place finish last year.

The nearly $90 million that Scherzer is owed over the final three years of his contract shouldn’t concern the Yankees, even with the veteran set to turn 35 years old four days before the trade deadline. He’s as durable as they come with more than 200 innings pitched in every season since 2013.

The Yankees are much more likely to add a pitcher like Madison Bumgarner or Dallas Keuchel. A deal for free-agent-to-be Bumgarner would cost New York much less than a deal for Scherzer would. If New York acquires Keuchel after the June 2 MLB Draft, all they’ll have to give up is money.

But a deal for Scherzer wouldn’t only be about 2019. It would help the Yankees compete for titles for the next several years.

Scherzer has shown little sign of slowing down. Even after a rough April, he has a 3.41 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP and an NL-leading 96 strikeouts. He reached 97 mph with his fastball Wednesday at Citi Field. He hasn’t pitched fewer than six innings or given up more than three earned runs since April 20.

A late-season trade for Justin Verlander is what ultimately put Houston over the top two years ago and brought the Astros their first championship in franchise history. David Price pitched like a legitimate ace in last season’s World Series and was arguably the Boston Red Sox’s most important player against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Fall Classic.

There was talk of the Yankees making a big offer for Corey Kluber in the summer that might’ve included Miguel Andujar or top-ranked prospect Estevan Florial. An even pricer offer for Scherzer should be on New York’s radar, no matter how unlikely Washington might be to accept it.