With Game 1 of the NLDS starting Friday night against the Cubs, one of the biggest concerns for Nationals fans is ace Max Scherzer not pitching Game 1 or Game 2 due to a hamstring injury.
The team announced Thursday that Stephen Strasburg would be pitching Game 1 and potentially Gio Gonzalez Game 2 with the plan to have Max Scherzer in for Game 3.
The Nats are about to take on the reigning World Series champs and considering they have yet to experience playoff baseball success, many fans are worried about Scherzer not taking the mound until Game 3. For Nats reporter Dan Kolko, that could be a good thing.
"This is not something that Max Scherzer is used to or enjoys very much," Kolko told the Sports Junkies Friday.
"He likes going out there and being able to throw his 110 pitches every single start. This has frustrated him but it is what it is. The Nationals are trying to manage it the best they can."
"I don't think that having Max go Game 3 in Chicago is the worst thing in the world. It kinda leaves an ace in the hole, literally and figuratively, in the Cubs' minds that they're going to have to deal with one of the best pitchers in the world Game 3 of this series."
Depending on the outcome of Game 1 and 2, having one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball on the mound for you Game 3 could potentially change the momentum of the series.
Dealing with health issues for the Cy Young Award winner has been a new experience for him in the 2017 season.
"This hamstring thing is something that, at least publicly, he said has just kind of popped up on him. He did acknowledge what you kind just said, which is that there have been a few, small things now that he's had to deal with over the last few months and he acknowledged as well that he's frustrated by that. He's not used to his body not allowing him to make 32, 33 starts a year."
So, what's the plan to get Scherzer ready for Monday's game in Chicago?
"Dusty Baker saying that they could have him throw a bullpen session two days ago and really they could have had him throw a bullpen session yesterday to try and make his way onto the mound for one of the first two games of this series, but they haven't done that."
"They're taking an abundance of caution here with the thought process that they want a healthy Max Scherzer. They don't want this being something that pops up again when he's on the mound in the division series."
"It certainly looks like Gio Gonzalez Game 2 and Max Scherzer Game 3, which will be Monday in Chicago. So, that will give Max a couple extra days to let that hamstring heal. We'll see whether he throws a bullpen session tomorrow, on Saturday, and assuming he does, then that would slot him likely to throw Monday against the Cubs."