Ahead of Wednesday’s National League Wild Card game, the man toeing the rubber for the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers will be ready for the moment.
That man is none other than Max Scherzer, who was traded to the Dodgers alongside Trea Turner at this year’s trade deadline. In a unique scenario, the 106-win Dodgers will host the St. Louis Cardinals in a one-game win-or-go-home playoff with the winner advancing on to face the San Francisco Giants in the National League Division Series.
The two former Nationals are all too familiar with the postseason spotlight, as we’re only two years removed from the epic 2019 postseason run that culminated in the first World Series championship in Nationals history.
The Dodgers knew what they were getting when they made the blockbuster trade with the Nationals in July, as they added the NL Cy Young Award front runner and an NL MVP candidate to their already loaded roster with the acquisitions of Scherzer and Turner. Los Angeles could not pass up on the opportunity to acquire the two superstars and were willing to part ways with two of its top prospects, Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz, to do so.
Top to bottom, the Dodgers roster has a wealth of postseason experience, but coming off of their World Series title in 2020, that would be expected. Not only did Los Angeles win it all last year, but they’ve made the postseason each of the past nine seasons.
Despite the postseason experience and success, this year’s postseason will be different for the Dodgers. It will mark the first time that the Dodgers will play in the Wild Card game during their run of dominance, but luckily for Los Angeles, their two new superstars are well versed in one-game playoffs.
On the road to their 2019 World Series Championship, the Nationals found themselves in the same position as this year’s Dodgers. The Nats hosted the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2019 Wild Card game with their ace, Max Scherzer, on the mound.
Scherzer’s start in that game didn’t go as planned, but in typical Max Scherzer fashion, he battled to keep his team in the game. The night started off rocky from the start, allowing a leadoff walk. Then Yasmani Grandal hit a 2-run home run to put the Brewers up 2-0.
Scherzer would finish with five innings pitched, while allowing three runs on four hits, with three walks. He also struck out six in what would eventually be a 4-3 Nationals victory, thanks in part to Juan Soto’s legendary bases-clearing single.
Trea Turner’s impact was also felt in the 2019 Wild Card game, as the shortstop got the Nationals’ on the board with a third-inning solo home run off Brewers’ starter Brandon Woodruff.
Both Scherzer and Turner played huge roles in the Nationals’ run to the 2019 World Series championship and both look to do the same this year in Los Angeles.
In the 2019 postseason, Scherzer touted a 2.40 ERA and a K/9 of 11.1, but it was Scherzer’s gutsy performances that he would be remembered for. Most notably, Scherzer battled through five innings in Game 7 of the World Series just days after he was scratched in Game 5 due to neck spasms.
The additions of Scherzer and Turner could end up being the difference for the Dodgers in the National League, but before they look forward to the NLDS, they must get through Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals first. Luckily for the Dodgers, the Wild Card game is nothing new for the duo of former Nationals.