Who should the Nationals start on the mound in Game 1 of the World Series? A question that is a luxury due to the Nationals having a week off in-between their sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS and the start of the final series of the year.
Should it be the ace and three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer? Or should they start their best pitcher since July in Stephen Strasburg?
President of baseball operations and general manager of the Nationals Mike Rizzo believes they will turn to Scherzer.
"I would assume that we would go with Max one, [Strasburg] two. I would think," Rizzo said during his weekly appearance on The Sports Junkies admitting that he does not know all the information. "Maybe Corbin two, I don't know."
Rizzo is keeping the cards close to his chest. Or, perhaps, he truly does not know and the decision has yet to be made. Depending on who the Nats play, the Astros with a lights-out rotation or the Yankees with perhaps the best bullpen in recent history, could be a determining factor.
Lining up Scherzer against the presumed No. 1 pitcher for Houston, Justin Verlander would likely set the Nats up for a long pitcher's duel. The Nats would also like to have Scherzer or Strasburg lined up against Gerrit Cole, whenever he pitches in the series. If it's the Yankees, that completely changes the conversation as well.
Either way, don't expect anything out of left field. Scherzer or Strasburg will likely start Game 1.
"That's not going to be breaking news when it happens," Rizzo told the Junkies. "We get to set up a rotation the way we want. It may matter which team we play (on) what we do."
The 2019 postseason has been a referendum on Stephen Strasburg's career in the playoffs. In three starts, the righty has a 3-0 record with a 1.64 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. He also leads all pitchers in the postseason with 33 strikeouts.
If there is any justification to start someone over the future Hall of Fame pitcher in Scherzer, it is based on Strasburg's performance. Yet, Scherzer started the Wild Card Game with the stats even more favored to the younger Strasburg.
The best news for the Nationals is that they have options. Something that they couldn't really say about their pitching staff much of the postseason thus far.
Here are the postseason stats for all of the Nats starting pitchers:
-Stephen Strasburg (3-0): 1.64 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 18 hits, 33 Ks, 1 BB
-Max Scherzer (3-0): 1.80 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 9 hits, 27 Ks, 8 BB
-Aníbal Sánchez (1-0): 0.71 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 5 hits, 14 Ks, 3 BB
-Patrick Corbin (1-2): 7.43 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 11 hits, 26 Ks, 10 BB
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