NEW YORK — Max Scherzer’s next start has been pushed back a day by the Washington Nationals to give the ace right-hander extra rest.

Scherzer initially was lined up to pitch Sunday night at Citi Field in the finale of a three-game series against the New York Mets. Instead, the NL East leaders plan to recall rookie right-hander Reynaldo Lopez from Triple-A Syracuse to make that start — weather permitting. Scherzer is scheduled to go Monday at home against last-place Atlanta.

Washington had opened a 10 1/2-game cushion over the second-place Mets going into Saturday night.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said the team just wanted to give Scherzer an additional day off at this time of year. Washington was off Thursday after playing 20 consecutive days.

“If I can give a guy an extra day, then we’ll give him an extra day,” Baker explained. “You’d love for Max to pitch against the Mets, but we felt the extra day is more important than Max pitching here.”

Last year, Scherzer pitched a no-hitter against the Mets at Citi Field on the final weekend.

A contender for the NL Cy Young Award, Scherzer is 15-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a major league-high 238 strikeouts in 28 starts covering 190 innings. He threw 102 pitches over eight innings Tuesday night in a 3-2 victory at Philadelphia, winning his third straight start.

The 22-year-old Lopez made his major league debut July 19 and is 2-2 with a 5.33 ERA in five starts for the Nationals.