In a move that had been all but assured already, Dusty Baker announced Thursday that Stephen Strasburg would start Game 1 of the NLDS. The Nats skipper wouldn’t commit to the rest of the rotation, preferring to wait on how Max Scherzer looked and felt after his first bullpen session since tweaking his hamstring last Saturday.
By Wednesday afternoon it was an ironclad assumption that lefty Gio Gonzalez would be on the bump for Game 2. The stellar southpaw threw a bullpen session during the team’s final workout at Nationals Park, further solidify his status, and a source told MASN’s Mark Zuckerman that Gonzalez is indeed going Saturday.
As for Scherzer, who skipped a ‘pen in favor of playing catch on flat ground on Wednesday, he was back to more of the same. Zuckerman reported that the ace closed his 10-15 minute session with a triumphant fist pump (probably like the one in the featured image), which probably meant he was happy with how it felt. Even so, the fact that he hasn’t pitched from a mound yet means he’s not happy with how the hammy feels.
Or it may be apropos of nothing, since most pitchers get a ‘pen in two or three days prior to a start. If Scherzer still hasn’t thrown from an elevated position by Saturday, then we’ve got something to really talk about.
It’s been reported by more than one source that Scherzer wanted to pitch Game 2, with the pitcher himself indicating that he could still make two starts in the series even if he didn’t open it. Moving him back to at least Game 3 eliminates that possibility, though he could be available in relief should a fifth game be required.
As we’ve seen with Jake Arrieta, the Nats know that discretion is the better part of valor. They feel confident in Scherzer’s ability to pitch in the next week, but it’d be foolish as all hell to push him and risk losing him for the remainder of the postseason.
We’ll continue to monitor the situation as it develops.