Max Scherzer exited his final start of the 2017 regular season early due to a hamstring injury. He wasn’t going to be healthy enough for Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cubs, and Game 2 is now officially out of the question as well, as Nationals manager Dusty Baker confirmed to the media that Scherzer would start Game 3.
That means Gio Gonzalez takes the mound in Game 2, while Scherzer gets an extra day off to rest his hamstrings, which were tested in a bullpen session earlier this week to see where his health was.
Losing Scherzer for the first two games is no small thing: Pitching Game 3 means Scherzer is going to be available for only the one start. While the Cubs didn’t finish that far ahead in the NL Central and have the fewest victories of any division winner in MLB this season, they also seemed to find themselves in the second half, when they went 49-25, good for a .662 winning percentage that tops what every other team besides the Indians (55-20, .733) managed during the same stretch.
Of course, anything can happen in five games, and just like the Cubs’ second half shows, they’re likely a better team than their overall record. And the Nats just got healthy — well, besides Scherzer — for the first time in a while with the return of Bryce Harper.
Enough of that, though: It’s no use predicting where the Cubs and Nats will be by Monday when Scherzer finally takes the mound. The key here is that at least Washington has admitted the plan is for its top arm to start.