WASHINGTON — Right-hander Max Scherzer “promised” listeners of a Washington radio station that he would pitch in the NLDS. He just wasn’t sure when that would be.
Scherzer, the Nationals’ two-time Cy Young Award winning ace who would have started Game 1 Friday if not for experiencing tightness in his right hamstring during his final outing of the regular season Saturday night, is penciled in for Game 3 Monday at Wrigley Field, manager Dusty Baker said at his pregame press conference Friday. That didn’t seem to be etched in stone, however, hearing Scherzer hours earlier.
“Still trying to weigh the risk versus the rewards and trying to come up with a plan of when we think I’ll be able to withstand 100 pitches,” Scherzer told 106.7 The Fan on Friday. “Literally we’re day by day. When we get to the field today and go over it with the trainers, we’ll come up with a good plan of when that will be.”
Scherzer said he would definitely face the Cubs, however.
“I am going to pitch in the series,” he said. “I promise you that, I promise you that.”
“He’s supposed to have a bullpen, I think, today,” Baker said. “So we’ll see how he comes out. Today he threw some, yesterday it was determined that we would be better if we waited till Game 3.”
The Cubs have been nursing Jake Arrieta through a hamstring issue as well and have him slated to go in Game 4. Scherzer is also finding the hamstring issue to be a tricky one.
“This is one of the most confusing injuries I’ve ever had in my career,” Scherzer said. “When you’re talking about a hamstring, you think about how debilitating that can be. The problem is I can actually run, sprint throw and lift and do a lot of things on the leg you wouldn’t think you’d be able to do but the injury is tied to my pitching mechanics and how I deliver the ball. So we’re in the tricky situation of trying to find a way strengthen this so that when I go out and pitch it holds for a full start and this doesn’t re-occur.”
The Nationals will send right-hander Stephen Strasburg to the mound in Game 1 and left-hander Gio Gonzalez in Game 2 at Nationals Park. The Cubs are countering with right-hander Kyle Hendricks in Game 1 and lefty Jon Lester in Game 2. Lefty Jose Quintana pitches Game 3 for the Cubs.
The Nationals would seem to be in good hands with Strasburg (15-4, 2.52 ERA), who pitched to a 0.84 ERA over his final eight starts, including 63 strikeouts to 10 walks over 53 2/3 innings.