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How Stephen Strasburg ended up starting NLDS Game 4 for the Washington Nationals: 24 crazy hours on the Nats beat...

Stephen Strasburg was under the weather, unable to go. Then he woke up feeling better and asked for the ball. GM Mike Rizzo, now-former skipper Dusty Baker, and the 24 hours that led up to Strasburg dominating the Cubs in Game 4 of the NLDS...

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MLB: NLDS-Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 11TH, 2017 - 9:00 AM: GM Mike Rizzo was live on the air with 106.7 the FAN’s Sports Junkies talking about Stephen Strasburg being too sick to start and defending the Washington Nationals’ decision to go with Tanner Roark in Game 4 of the NLDS with the Chicago Cubs, with the Nats on the verge of elimination, trailing 2-1 in the best-of-five series.

At some point that morning, however, Strasburg made a call to pitching coach Mike Maddux to say he wanted the ball, 12 hours or so after Dusty Baker announced that the right-hander was under the weather and thus unable to start in the elimination game, even after rain washed out the originally scheduled game the night before, allowing the right-hander to pitch on regular rest if he’d been able to go.

MLB: NLDS-Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 10TH - 5:30-5:40 PM: “Well, we decided to stay with Tanner because, number one, you know, he was slated,” Baker explained after Game 4 was postponed. “Didn't work out for Stras for his bullpen day, and we're all creatures of habit, and plus — we've got full confidence in Tanner — and Stras, it would have been better, because he's feeling under the weather, like a lot of my team is.”

REPORTER: Did you say it was Stras that is under the weather?

DUSTY BAKER: “Yes, and — a lot of my team is under the weather with the change of weather and the air conditioning in the hotel and the air conditioning here. It's just this time of the year for mold around Chicago -- I think it's mold. I mean, I have it, too.”

Following up, a reporter asked when exactly Strasburg threw his bullpen session...

REPORTER: You mentioned the bullpens didn't line up for Strasburg. Did he throw one today [Tuesday] thinking he was going Thursday?


REPORTER: Just to clarify, you said it didn't work out for him. Did he try to go out there?


REPORTER: Strasburg.

DUSTY BAKER: “He had a bullpen today, which wouldn't have allowed him to -- because we had planned on playing his bullpen early. So, you know, it's fine. We have full confidence in Tanner.”

The bullpen session had actually been on Monday (10/9), not Tuesday (10/10), as Baker said mistakenly, which Rizzo clarified when he spoke to The Sports Junkies.

MLB: NLDS-Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 11TH - 9:00 AM: “[Strasburg] looked bad, looked under the weather, looked sick,” Rizzo told the Junkies.

“Threw his bullpen and was just very, very depleted and no energy. He was just toasted really, really fast in the bullpen. Had no endurance.”

“We’d rather have Strasburg on full five days’ rest at 100 percent, feeling great, but that’s not the case,” Rizzo added.

One report the previous night said that Strasburg “declined” the opportunity to pitch with the season on the line. Was that the truth?

“Did Stras fight for the ball?” one of the Junkies asked.

MIKE RIZZO: “Yeah. He wanted to pitch. What he told Mike Maddux was, he said he’d give us everything he has. He said he’s not sure how much that is and how long he can go. And that’s the decision we made as a unit, like we always make all these decisions, that we’re going to do what’s best for the team.

“This isn’t about Stephen Strasburg pitching through adversity. This is about winning Game 4 of the playoffs, and we feel with Tanner Roark at 100 percent, on full rest, and full preparation to pitch Game 4 from the beginning of the playoffs, he gives us a better chance than a depleted, sick Stephen Strasburg.”

Rizzo was asked at that point, as things got a bit contentious between him and the Junkies, if he thought fans had the right to question why Strasburg wasn’t willing to put his “balls on the line”?

“He is attempting to put his balls on the line,” Rizzo responded.

“He went out and threw a bullpen and said, ‘Mike Maddux, pitching coach, I’m gonna give you everything I have. I don’t know how much it is.'”

“And we made a decision that we want 100% Tanner Roark — who wins 15, 16 and 13 games over the three years he was a starter — over a depleted Stephen Strasburg,” Rizzo said.

“Asked and answered. How many times do you want to go through it?”

Meanwhile... unbeknownst to Rizzo, at the time, apparently, Strasburg had woken up and called Maddux to say he wanted the ball...

OCTOBER 11TH - 11:09-11:32 AM:

OCTOBER 11TH - 7:30 PM: “Woke up this morning, and you know, I wouldn't say I felt like great but, you know, I felt like I was better than what I was the day before,” Strasburg told reporters after he’d tossed seven scoreless in the Nationals’ 5-0 Game 4 win over the Cubs, in a dominating performance.

“And so games like this, you have to go out there and give it everything you have, whatever it is,” Strasburg continued.

“So I called Mad Dog in the morning and said, ‘Just give me the ball.’ That's what he did.”

Divisional Round - Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs - Game Four Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

OCTOBER 11TH - 12:30 PM: “So after his start on Friday,” Rizzo told reporters before the start of Game 4, when he was asked to walk reporters through the last 24 hours, “... a couple days afterwards, he started feeling flu-like symptoms and that continued for the next couple of days: Fever, chills, acute sinusitis. And when he threw his bullpen Monday, he was feeling really bad. He had no endurance. He was really weak and it was -- just wasn't feeling great.

“You know, he battled through it. We aggressively -- he saw our doctors and they aggressively put him on an antibiotic regimen, anti-inflammatories, and fluid IVs. He's taken several IVs the last couple of days, last night, and again today.

“At the time of the rainout Tuesday when we were going to announce our starter for the rain game, we went to Stras and he said, he told me he wanted to take the ball. He said, I'll give you everything I've got, but he doesn't know how much he has.

“We felt at that time it wasn't enough when we have a guy like Tanner Roark there that's able to start. Tanner was prepared. It was his day to start, and we felt very, very comfortable giving him the ball in Game 4.

“Then as of today, we switched Stras's antibiotics, gave him a higher dose, IV fluids throughout the evening, and this morning he felt much more like Stephen Strasburg. So he came into the clubhouse and went to the manager's office and said that, "I want to start this game."

“The fact that he was much more like the real Stephen Strasburg, we felt that that Stephen Strasburg gave us a much better chance to win Game 4. And that's it.”

OCTOBER 11TH - 1:00 PM: “He seemed, you know, more focused than normal,” Dusty Baker told reporters, explaining what changed with Strasburg that convinced him it was okay to give the righty the start.

“He just said, "I'm feeling a whole lot better," and, "I want the ball." That was kind of the gist of the conversation.”

REPORTER: Did you have any concerns that maybe Strasburg was pressured into making a start?

DUSTY BAKER: “No, I didn't. We didn't put that pressure on him, and I don't think that he would succumb to the pressure from the public or the media or anybody. You know, he's a grown man. He made that decision on his own and he wanted to pitch, and he was very adamant about he wanted to pitch and how much better he was feeling.

“So no, he wasn't pressured at all by -- that I know of.”

OCTOBER 11TH - 7:30 PM:

REPORTER: How many of your teammates, if any, did you hear from over the last 24 hours sending calls, texts, saying, "Hey, we need you big guy?"

STEPHEN STRASBURG: “Well, after sitting in the rainout, we had to switch hotels and sit in traffic getting to the hotels last night. I think we all just kind of got in, and I went to sleep pretty quickly and gave it everything -- gave the best chance to answer the bell the next day. So was able to get in a lot of sleep.”

Q. Given all the drama of the past 24 hours, did you feel you had something to prove in this game and in this start tonight?

STEPHEN STRASBURG: “Not to you guys, no. No, you guys create the drama. But I know, like I said earlier, I have faith in every other guy in this clubhouse and I know the coaching staff feels the same.”