Washington Nationals: Max Scherzer will not pitch first 2 games of NLDS

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(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Today, it was reported that Max Scherzer will not pitch the first 2 games for the Washington Nationals in the NLDS

The mystery around the Washington Nationals all week was how they were going to line up their rotation for the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs. Today, it was reported that Stephen Strasburg will start tomorrow night’s game and it  Gio Gonzalez will pitch Game 2 on Saturday.

As for Scherzer, it is not official, but the sense is that he is going to pitch in Game 3 when the series shifts to Wrigley Field on Monday. Here was the latest from Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post on how the club is trying to wait until he’s 100 percent:

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Overall, this creates more questions around a rotation that some might say is the best in the National League heading into the postseason. Without Scherzer in the first two games, a lot of the pressure will be on Strasburg and Gonzalez to at least get a split going to Wrigley.

With that being said, Strasburg has been one of the best pitchers in baseball in the second half and Gonzalez has been one of the better pitchers at home in the league. The task will be tough for Gonzalez against Cubs left-hander Jon Lester, but Gonzalez did have a 2.76 home ERA in 15 starts.

Despite the good home numbers, Gonzalez isn’t exactly heading into the postseason on a good note. Over his last five starts, he went five innings or less in four of them and allowed a total of 16 runs. In his fifth career postseason start, Gonzalez will be looking for his first win (zero decisions).

It is understandable why the Nats want to wait till Scherzer is fully healthy and the team could always hold him out longer depending on the course of the series. But, at the same time, no one is really 100 percent healthy this time of year, so you have to wonder how severe that hamstring injury actually is.

If Scherzer pitches Game 3, he will only make one start in the series if it goes five games. However, don’t underestimate his impact out of the bullpen if the series goes the distance. The Washington Nationals ace has pitched out of the bullpen twice in his postseason career (2011 and 2014 ALDS).

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So, for a rotation that appeared to have an edge going into this series, that edge might’ve gone down with Scherzer not being able to pitch in front of the home fans this weekend. It will be up to Strasburg and Gonzalez to try to pick up the slack and get the Nats off to a good start as the team searches for its first playoff series win.

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