MLB playoffs: Nationals will start Anibal Sanchez, not Max Scherzer, in NLDS Game 3 vs. Dodgers


Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer throws to a Los Angeles Dodgers batter during the eighth inning in Game 2 of a baseball National League Division Series on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The Big Game 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C., (CBS) – When the NLDS resumes with Game 3 at Nationals Park on Sunday night (GameTracker), the Nationals will not have three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer on the mound. The team announced Sunday morning that Anibal Sanchez will get the ball instead.

Scherzer threw five innings and 77 pitches in the NL Wild Card Game win on Tuesday. He then came out of the bullpen and threw 14 pitches in a 1-2-3 eighth inning with three strikeouts in the NLDS Game 2 win on Friday.

“I’m going to see how he feels [Saturday],” manager Dave Martinez said following Game 2 when asked whether Scherzer would still start Game 3 as scheduled. “I want to make sure he gets a night. He’s working out right now and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

With the series tied 1-1, the NLDS is now a best-of-three, and there are at least two games remaining. Sanchez starting Game 3 creates several different possibilities for the Nationals going forward:

Sanchez in Game 3, Scherzer in Game 4, Stephen Strasburg in Game 5, Patrick Corbin in the bullpen.

Sanchez in Game 3, Scherzer in Game 4, Corbin in Game 5, Strasburg in the bullpen.

Sanchez in Game 3, Corbin on short rest in Game 4, Strasburg in Game 5, Scherzer in the bullpen.

If Corbin is comfortable starting on short rest, leaving Scherzer in the bullpen the rest of the series would be awfully tempting. The Nationals would still have two dominant starters lined up for Games 4 and 5, and Scherzer would help a weak relief crew.

Chances are the Nationals will play Game 3 out before deciding on their Game 4 starter. If they need to use Scherzer in relief in Game 3 to secure another win, they’ll do it. Otherwise he figures to get the ball in Game 4 on Monday.

Sanchez, a 14-year veteran with eight career postseason appearances, had a fine regular season for the Nationals, throwing 166 innings with a 3.85 ERA. He owns a 3.12 ERA in 43 1/3 career postseason innings, most of which came with the Tigers.

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