(CBS) For so long, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that right-hander Max Scherzer would start Game 1 of the National League Division Series for for the Nationals.
That’s when Scherzer tweaked his right hamstring in his final tune-up ahead of the playoffs, leaving in the fourth inning against the Pirates. A follow-up MRI confirmed that the injury was “nothing major,” as Scherzer put it, but it could be just enough to delay Scherzer’s arrival on the mound in the playoffs.
“Probably,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker told reporters of whether Scherzer’s hamstring injury affects the rotation. “But he’s going to be fine. It’s just a matter of we got to determine when that is.”
That would seem to be an indicator that the Nationals would throw right-hander Stephen Strasburg in Game 1 against the Cubs on Friday. Beyond that, it remains unclear.
A candidate to win the NL Cy Young award, Scherzer is 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. Any development that prevents him from potentially pitching twice in the NLDS would seem to be a good break for the Cubs, though Strasburg is a fine choice to turn to in Game 1 and potentially in Game 5 as well. He’s 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.
The Cubs haven’t announced their pitching rotation yet either. On Friday, general manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged that recent form is “important.” If that’s the primary factor, right-hander Kyle Hendricks would likely get the ball in Game 1.