Nationals announce NLDS Game 1 starter and Scherzer update
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In October baseball, it’s the pitching that wins championship and Nationals manager Dusty Baker said he “knows a championship’s coming.”
The Nationals offer a triple threat for starters, which includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer — that is if he’s healthy.
Strasburg has been dominant since the All-Star break, so it comes at no surprise that Baker named him their Game 1 starter for the NLDS. He’ll start against Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks on Friday at Nationals Park.
Strasburg is 4-0 in his five most recent starts with a .083 ERA. He also recorded 40 strikeouts in the 32 2/3 innings he pitched in September, which helped him earn the National League pitcher of the month honor.
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Baker didn’t reveal a Game 2 or 3 starter.
Question marks still surround the status of Scherzer who “tweaked” his hamstring. Scherzer threw a bullpen session Wednesday.
“We realized that if [Scherzer] pitches Game 2 that he potentially could pitch Game 5,” Baker said. “But is it worth it?”
The Nationals are choosing between Scherzer and Gonzalez for Game 2. If Gonzalez is picked for the Game 2, Scherzer will pitch Game 3, according to Baker.
The Cubs announced their starting pitching rotation on Wednesday.
Hendricks will open up the series on Friday. Jon Lester will take the bump on Saturday for Game 2. Jose Quintana and Jake Arrieta will round out the rotation back at Wrigley Field for Game 3 and 4 (if necessary) on Monday and Tuesday.
Arrieta threw a bullpen session Wednesday. But like Scherzer, the former Cy Young winner has be hampered with a hamstring injury.
Arrieta left the mound on Sept. 4 after pitching 2 1/3 innings with a hamstring strain. He has thrown two games for 8 innings since the injury, but he’s still dealing with soreness.