Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked after sending Max Scherzer out for an inning of relief work in Game 2 of the NLDS matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night about how he was handling his starters in relief appearances after he’d used Stephen Strasburg for three innings out of the bullpen in the NL Wild Card win as well.
“You know, before the series started, before we even got to the playoffs, our game plan was to try to utilize these guys the best way possible without disrupting their starts,” the second-year skipper explained.
“And we talked to all of them and they have all been on board. So it’s just part of it. When you get to these games, I’ve said this before, you’re playing to win one game. Every day’s crucial. We had a chance to win today.
“And I told Max, if the game’s close then we’ll use you. And we did that.”
“After BP, kind of talked with the coaches,” Scherzer said, “and I told them, ‘Hey, look, I play catch today. I’m good.
Max Scherzer said the #Nationals throwing Aníbal Sánchez tonight and getting him an extra day of rest was probably the best thing for him and the team: pic.twitter.com/GfgiENUeu9— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) October 6, 2019
“I’ve been in these situations before where you’re pitching on two days’ rest, in different All-Star Games and different times in the postseason I’ve been in this situation and I know that on two days’ rest you’ve got one inning — I feel like I can really go one inning and recover from that, so I said whatever the situation is I’m ready to pitch.”
Scherzer threw 14 pitches total, 11 for strikes, five swinging, and one called, his fastball sat 97-99, after he averaged 95.1 MPH this season, and he struck all three batters he faced out.
The Nationals’ 35-year-old ace said afterwards that he didn’t think the relief outing would affect plans for his scheduled outing in Game 3.
“Whenever they want me to pitch,” he said, “I’ll pitch.”
“I’m going to see how he feels tomorrow,” Martinez told reporters after the Nationals’ 4-2 win.
“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.”
Before the start of Game 3, however, the Nats announced that it would be Aníbal Sánchez going instead of Scherzer. Martinez was asked in his pregame presser if Scherzer tried to lobby to start in the game.
“No,” he said. “I talked to Max after our media session after Game 2. We talked at length and we thought it would be best that he starts Game 4. But that being said, Aníbal was definitely told that he would pitch Game 3. And he’s up for it. Everybody talks about the big three that we have. Aníbal, you could mention Aníbal as being one of the big four, because he was really good this year for us, really good, especially down the stretch though.
“I’m excited, he’s excited, hopefully he goes out there and pitches like he’s been pitching and he gives us a strong outing.”
“We talked after the game,” Scherzer said.
“Throwing Sánchez Game 3, and letting me get an extra day would probably be the best thing for me and for the team. So that was Davey’s decision and it’s Davey’s call.”
Scherzer was asked how big a difference one day could really make, and what it could affect?
“Everything,” he said. “I would say probably the number of pitches you can go in a specific day. I know if I can go tomorrow, I can probably give more. I don’t even know what the number is right now. That’s kind of out the door. It’s just how you feel and communicate with the coaches on what you think can you do and stay within yourself and communicate where you’re at.”
Sánchez tossed five strong in last night’s game, giving up one run before things fell apart in the bullpen.
The Nationals will need Scherzer to be at his best with the season on the line in Game 4 of the NLDS after they lost Game 3 last night.