After a flight back from Los Angeles yesterday, and some time for everyone to rest up after their big win over the Dodgers in Game 2 of their NLDS matchup, the Washington Nationals made a decision this morning to start Aníbal Sánchez in Game 3 tonight in Nationals Park.
Here’s a look back at what led to the decision to give Sánchez the start after the team made an announcement earlier this week that it would be Max Scherzer on the mound...
Starters in the Bullpen/All Hands on Deck:
Stephen Strasburg threw 34 pitches in three scoreless innings in relief of Max Scherzer in the NL Wild Card Game this past Tuesday night, then came back out with six innings on a total of 85 pitches in an impressive outing in Game 2 of the NLDS with the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Friday.
Once Strasburg was done on the mound in Dodger Stadium, and after Sean Doolittle gave up a run on a solo home run in the seventh to leave the Nationals with a one-run lead, Nats’ manager Davey Martinez called on Scherzer in the eighth for a 14-pitch, 11-strike frame that got the ball to closer Daniel Hudson, who worked into and out of a bases-loaded jam for his second postseason save in three games.
Scherzer’s second outing of the week was a brief one, and it came only hours after Martinez told reporters that the right-hander was scheduled to start in Game 3, so did sending him to the mound for an inning of relief work alter those plans?
“We’ll see,” Martinez said. “I talked to him now. I’m going to see how he feels tomorrow. We’ll -- I want to make sure he gets a night. He’s working out right now and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
And if Scherzer couldn’t go again?
“If not him, it will probably be [Aníbal] Sánchez,” the second-year skipper said.
After the relatively quick inning in the eighth, did Martinez consider asking Scherzer to go back out for the ninth?
“No,” he said. “I didn’t want to pitch him in the ninth. That ninth inning is a beast. If you don’t do it, it’s tough and Hudson has been our guy.”
“I thought if I were to go out there and pitch the ninth it would really be taxing given the situation and the moment of the game,” Scherzer told reporters.
“That that could hinder how effective I could be in the future, considering everything at play, so we have Huddy, Huddy is the closer, let him close.”
The Nationals’ decision to turn to Scherzer when they did caught Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts by surprise.
“I was — yeah, we weren’t expecting that,” Roberts acknowledged. “Obviously it was a big game for them to play for the split in the series or on the road. So probably a bullpen day.
“So, yeah I was surprised but obviously they have the option of using him Game 3 or Game 4 now.”
As for what he took from the Nationals’ willingness to use their pitchers like they have so far in the postseason?
“Obviously when you deploy Scherzer in Game 2, they’re going to play every game to the end and use whatever part of the roster they have,” Roberts said. “They trust their starters. They’re going to rely on their starters.”
Scherzer too was asked how the relief outing would affect him as far as Game 3, and he said if they asked him to go he would be ready.
“Honestly, doesn’t matter,” Scherzer explained.
“For me, you bring it whenever you’re told to bring it. This is the playoffs. You lay it on the line every single time you touch that field.
“So whenever I get the ball next I get the ball and just lay it on the line.”
“Whenever they want me to pitch, I’ll pitch.”
This morning the Nationals made the official announcement that it would be Sánchez on the mound in Game 3, with Scherzer now likely to take the mound in Game 4 tomorrow night.