Max Scherzer is still slated to take the bump for the Nationals on Monday, but club manager Dusty Baker doesn’t know how long he can last. That could be an issue for the team, who dropped a 3-0 NLDS opener to the Cubs on Friday and, if they can’t even the series on Saturday, would be looking to spoil the Cubs’ clinch during Game 3 next week.
While the Nationals flailed in a two-hitter against Kyle Hendricks and company, Scherzer threw a bullpen session in preparation for his upcoming outing. He tweaked his right hamstring during his final regular season start last Saturday and was unavailable for the team’s first two Division Series matchups, but told Baker that his session “went well” on Friday and appears to be ready to go after an extended rest period.
Whether or not he walks into a high-pressure, must-win game on Monday is up to left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who will head off Game 2 for the Nats on Saturday afternoon. Gonzalez is flying high after a terrific 2017 run, during which he posted a 15-9 record and 2.96 ERA, and has found limited success in four postseason appearances despite not making it out of the first round. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 PM ET.
At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.
Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.
The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.
At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).