Max Scherzer

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Why Max Scherzer pitching Game 3 could be a good thing

Why Max Scherzer pitching Game 3 could be a good thing

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.

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"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. 

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"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."

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Scherzer or Strasburg? Mike Rizzo still unsure of NLDS Game 1 starting pitcher

Scherzer or Strasburg? Mike Rizzo still unsure of NLDS Game 1 starting pitcher

The Nationals are two days away from hosting the reigning World Series champs, the Chicago Cubs, in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. 

General manager Mike Rizzo has made adjustments all season long to get his team to this spot. One thing he is still unsure of though is who will take the mound on Friday night. 

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The obvious starter would be the teams ace Max Scherzer, but he is currently dealing with a '"tweaked" hamstring. Scherzer insist he will be pitching in the NLDS but if he can't start Game 1, who will?

"You know, we're not sure yet," Rizzo said on the Sports Junkies Wednesday.

"We haven't made the decision. We certainly haven't made the announcement."

"Max is not only our number one starter, he's probably the number one starter in the league and maybe in baseball. If he's capable of pitching Game 1, he's the Game 1 starter. If we feel it's beneficial for him to get an extra day or two days to rest the hamstring and prepare for Game 2 or Game 3 , we would certainly be open to that."

Having your number one pitcher not feeling 100 percent would send any other team into a frenzy, but luckily for the Nats, their depth at that position is one of the strongest in the league.

"The good thing about our club is that we have two number one pitchers with Stras and Max and we're fortunate to have that option. When you run the hottest pitcher in baseball out there Game 1 and Stephen Strasburg, that's not the worst thing in the world. We'll take that any day of the week."

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So, will the possible delay of Scherzer's start affect how Mike Rizzo and Dusty Baker set the Nats' lineup? 

"I think going into this, injuries or how people feel, will affect the people that you put on the roster. Your extra players and that type of thing. I think that Max's situation is such that we feel good about where he's at. I don't think it would correlate any other move because of the hamstring."

"But, we still haven't decided on the last one or two players on the roster. It's going to be contingent on how people progress. You know, we're looking at Brian Goodwin in the workouts here to see how he's feelings, how he's moving, how he's running, and some other different guys, you know, on taking the last piece of that roster and see how it will improve us for a short, five-game series." 

The Nationals are set to take on the Cubs at Nats Park Friday at 7:31p.m. on TBS.

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Nationals get Scherzer ready for postseason, Braves score 7 off him

Nationals get Scherzer ready for postseason, Braves score 7 off him

WASHINGTON -- It was part of the Washington Nationals' plan to push Max Scherzer's pitch count deeper than usual on Wednesday.

The Atlanta Braves' plate discipline and timely hitting in the seventh inning wasn't in the script.

Dansby Swanson smacked a bases-loaded, go-ahead two-run single off Scherzer, Matt Kemp hit a grand slam two batters later and Atlanta beat Washington 8-2.

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Atlanta scored six runs in the seventh, and five were charged to Scherzer (14-6), who walked the bases loaded and remained in the game despite having thrown 114 pitches. Swanson then hit a 1-0 pitch to left to make it 4-2.

"We were just able to string good at-bats together," Swanson said. "Good pitchers like that, it's hard to be able to do that. It kind of gets magnified when you are able to do it."

The Nationals intentionally walked Freddie Freeman before manager Dusty Baker went to the bullpen. Kemp then drilled Brandon Kintzler's first offering to left for his seventh career grand slam and first since 2011.

Scherzer finished with 116 pitches, his most since July 7.

"With an extra day coming up, I thought it would be a good idea to try to get me into the 110, 115, 120 pitch count range tonight," Scherzer said. "I thought that would benefit me going forward and then looking into the postseason, pitch with some extra fatigue."

Scherzer, who had not lost since June 21 and had won six decisions in a row, allowed seven runs over six-plus innings -- the most he has yielded since giving up seven to the Chicago Cubs on May 6, 2016. He walked six batters, his most in nearly five years.

Manager Dusty Baker said he was weighing the long-term benefits of stretching Scherzer out when he opted to leave him in. Washington clinched the NL East on Sunday, but has since dropped back-to-back games.

"That was the game plan before the night started," Baker said. "I know it looked ugly. It looked ugly to you, it looked ugly to us, and the fans and everybody else. But if you have a game plan, then you want to stick with it as much as and as long as you can."

In his second start since his call-up from Triple-A Gwinnett, Atlanta rookie Luiz Gohara (1-1) needed only 71 pitches to complete six innings and secure his first major league victory. He allowed six hits and two runs while striking out six.

"The kid gets locked in and really competes," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "That's what I heard about him, from the guys that played with him, had him, been around him. They say once he gets out there, he's trying to beat you. That's legit stuff there, too."