It was all-but official already, but this afternoon Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said that it will be Max Scherzer starting for Washington in the Wild Card Game on Tuesday, though the opponent and venue are still being determined this weekend.
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo said it was likely going to be Scherzer on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this week, explaining that things were lined up for the right-hander to start the win-or-go-home matchup.
“I think Max is lined up for that Wild Card game and that was done with a purpose,” Rizzo told the Junkies on Wednesday, “... and I think if everything goes the way we plan it, that that’s our strategy.”
As he noted at several points in his weekly interview, however, the Nationals have a couple options at the top of the rotation that could have done the job if asked.
“Fortunately we have the luxury that we have three three No. 1 starters on this club,” he said, “... and I feel comfortable going to war with any of those three guys in a Wild Card game, so I think that will go into our strategy.”
Scherzer told 106.7 the FAN’s Grant and Danny this afternoon that he was sure he would at least start the game.
“I think we have it lined up where, how everybody’s pitched, and I think that’s basically how we’ve lined it up, is that I’ll get the ball, at least to start it,” Scherzer said.
Martinez made it official when he spoke to reporters before tonight’s series opener with the Cleveland Indians in the nation’s capital:
Davey Martinez says Max Scherzer will start Tuesday's Wild Card game.— Craig Heist (@cheistsports) September 27, 2019
Davey Martinez says Max Scherzer will start the wild card game. Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin will both be on the roster and available out of the bullpen.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) September 27, 2019
Dave Martinez officially names Max Scherzer his wild-card game starter.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) September 27, 2019
Scherzer missed significant time on the Injured List this season, with two stints, in July and August, while dealing with two issues: scapulothoracic bursitis and a mild rhomboid strain.
Since returning from the IL, the 35-year-old, three-time Cy Young award-winner has put up a 4.74 ERA, eight walks, 54 Ks, and a .243/.278/.473 line against in 38 IP, but as Rizzo said in his interview with the Junkies this week, when he was asked if he had any concerns about turning to his ace with the season on the line, he thinks Scherzer will be ready for the Wild Card Game.
“He’s getting closer and closer each and every time,” Rizzo said. “It’s a pitch here or there.”
“The stuff was good, the velocity is there, he gets the swing and misses, and his five-pitch mix, he’s getting sharper and sharper with it. It all starts with fastball command with Max. We’ve got some worries on this team, Max Scherzer is not one of them, believe me.”