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Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg lined up as Wild-Card Game options if Nationals make it

Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg lined up as Wild-Card Game options if Nationals make it

Washington has options at the end of next week.

It shuffled this weekend’s rotation in order to put end-of-season choices in play. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg are in a place where they could each influence the final game of the season or the Wild-Card Game.

First, to this weekend: Aníbal Sánchez, Strasburg and Austin Voth are lined up to pitch against Miami. Sánchez has a 3.31 ERA against the Marlins this season, Strasburg a 1.19 ERA in four starts, Voth has not faced the Marlins.

Voth was moved back a day to accommodate this setup. Sánchez and Strasburg will be on regular rest. Patrick Corbin receives an extra day off before he starts the Phillies series. 

Which, in part, is what this is about. Corbin pitches the opener Monday. He is set to pitch again Saturday. Which means he could possibly be available for an inning in the Wild-Card Game on Oct. 1 and definitely available if needed for Game 1 of the National League Division Series, which starts Oct. 3, exactly when Corbin would be on regular rest.

Scherzer, who looked sharp most of Wednesday in St. Louis, should pitch the night portion of next week’s split day-night doubleheader against Philadelphia. The day-side portion of that game will fall to Erick Fedde or Jeremy Hellickson, the latter of which has not pitched in a major-league game since May 19. 

Pitching on Tuesday means Scherzer can pitch Sunday in game 162 if the Nationals need to win to get in. Otherwise, it means he can pitch Oct. 1 on extended rest. Should Washington make the postseason -- still a lot of work to do there -- and win the Wild-Card Game -- getting ahead of ourselves -- he would be able to pitch Game 3 of the NLDS in Nationals Park.

Next is Strasburg. After pitching Saturday in Miami, he should pitch Thursday against Philadelphia. That alignment puts him on regular rest for the Wild-Card Game. Which leaves the recently much-discussed choice: Scherzer or Strasburg to start a winner-take-all game? Both could be available. At the least, Scherzer could pitch game 162 or (gasp) 163 and Strasburg would be available for the Wild-Card Game.

So, a subtle shift this weekend set up everything to come. That’s if the Nationals can get into the postseason.

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Davey Martinez wasn't focused on the Astros stealing signs during the World Series

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Davey Martinez wasn't focused on the Astros stealing signs during the World Series

Stealing signs is part of the game of baseball.

Using technology, such as cameras to steal signs as the Houston Astros are currently under investigation by the MLB for doing, is not.

Hearing rumors about the Astros' alleged sign-stealing, the Nationals came into the 2019 World Series with a plan to combat it by adapting their signs, but according to Nationals manager Davey Martinez, the focus was always on how to win.

“You know for me and for everything we talked about, I didn’t want to get into any series and worry about what the other team does," Martinez told NBC Sports Washington Monday at MLB's Winter Meetings. "I wanted to focus on what we can do and how we can attack the opponents and win games and that was our focus. Yeah, you know we changed some signs around, we did some different things but the focus was always about how we can beat the Houston Astros and not how we think that they’re gonna play us.”

Regarding the use of technology, Martinez says "it's out there," and looks to repercussions the MLB puts in place to prevent this from happening again.

"I know MLB is doing an unbelievable job trying to fix the issues so we’ll see what happens," Martinez said. 

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ESPN releases Sunday Night Baseball schedule, Nationals make zero appearances

ESPN releases Sunday Night Baseball schedule, Nationals make zero appearances

ESPN released its Sunday Night Baseball schedule for the 2020 season and the World Series Champion Nationals are not on it. 

The Mets are scheduled to play three times on baseball's prime time television slot, while the Dodgers are set to appear three times as well. The Braves are the only other NL East team scheduled to play. 

Here's a look at the schedule so far. 

As you can probably tell, there's plenty of Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers in there.

There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Nationals' roster due to Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon's free agencies, but come on. The Mets?

On the chance the Nationals lose both Strasburg and Rendon in free agency, they still have a great chance at being competitive and intriguing all year. 

Sunday Night Baseball is supposed to be the biggest game of the week and to not have the defending champions once feels wrong regardless of your allegiances.

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