When the Washington Nationals’ pregame notes for the series finale with the Miami Marlins were posted Wednesday afternoon, Tanner Roark was listed as the starter in Friday’s series opener with the Chicago Cubs, but the next two starters were TBA.
Erick Fedde, who filled in for Stephen Strasburg (DL right elbow nerve impingement) this past Sunday in Washington, D.C., was optioned back to Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday, with A.J. Cole called up to start against the Fish, though Fedde could be called back up if Gio Gonzalez is placed on the maternity leave for the birth of his second child, which is coming any day now.
Edwin Jackson started on Sunday night, in the second game of the Nats’ doubleheader with the Colorado Rockies, so he could probably come back and start one of the games this weekend if necessary.
Gonzalez, if he doesn’t leave the team, could return on regular rest and face the Cubs on Saturday after facing the Marlins on Monday night.
Strasburg? The Nationals are taking a cautious approach with the right-hander, who was only expected to miss one start when he was placed on the DL last week.
Dusty Baker talked before last night’s game in Miami about how the right-hander was doing as he worked to get back to the rotation.
“He’s coming along fine. He’s feeling better, so right now things are status quo, he’s throwing a couple pens, and we’re just trying to analyze it and make sure that he’s 100%.”
Asked if the 29-year-old righty was ready to ramp things up with a sim game, Baker said he wasn’t sure how they would get one in.
“It makes it tougher on the road to have a sim game,” Baker said. “So we’ll — especially we’ve only got one day here, then we go to Chicago and play day games, so it probably won’t be — he’ll probably throw a pen I would imagine here before a sim game, we’re not sure.”
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo talked to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning about what the immediate future holds for Strasburg, explaining that it’s unclear at this point exactly when he’ll return.
“He’s throwing a bullpen today,” Rizzo said, “and we’ll get a better assessment where he’s at. The fact that he’s doing his regular routines as a starter is a good thing.”
“If it was the last week of the season, we were one game out or one game up, he could probably pitch,” Dusty Baker added in an MLB Network Radio interview on Wednesday.
“But right now, with his history, with last year, us going into the playoffs without him, you would just hate to have anything happen at this point in time.
“We haven’t clinched anything by a long shot, but we’re in a pretty good position and so we can be a little more cautious, cause we certainly need him.
“Last year, during the playoffs, you just think back, without [Wilson] Ramos, our No. 1 catcher, and without Stras, it made it a little tough and we still gave them a hell of a run.”
As for Max Scherzer, who left Tuesday night’s start after one inning with neck spasms?
Scherzer downplayed the issue after the start, joking with reporters about the issue (and his first career HR).
“It’s just day-by-day with this thing,” Scherzer said. “This isn’t like an injury where I crashed something or did something stupid, this is just I slept on it wrong.
“Sometimes, you wake up in the morning and you have a crink in your neck, and this is what this is. Like I said, I’ve had this in the past, you just got to take your pills, take your drugs, take your anti-inflammatories, rest and just get treatment. This will come and go.”
“It’s a spasm in his neck area, and he’s not worried about it,” Rizzo told the Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning.
“He was joking around about hitting a homer last night more so than the spasm, so he’s not worried about it, so I’m not worried about it. But until he throws a side or a bullpen, we’ll see.”
Dusty Baker told reporters on Wednesday night, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, that he wasn’t worried about Scherzer missing a start at this point. “No, not right now. We don’t know,” Baker said.
Scherzer told reporters he bought a new pillow at a local Target on Tuesday night, and had a plan to see a chiropractor in the next 24 hours.
If everything works out, it could be Roark vs Kyle Hendricks on Friday in Wrigley Field, Gonzalez vs John Lackey on Saturday, and Scherzer vs Jon Lester in the series finale on Sunday.
If it doesn’t go as the Nationals hope it will over the next few days...?