Anibal Sanchez
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Aníbal Sánchez to start NLDS Game 3

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Right-hander Max Scherzer will not make his anticipated start during Game 3 of the National League Division Series, the Nationals revealed Sunday. Scherzer pitched an inning of relief during the club’s 4-2 win over the Dodgers on Friday night, expending 14 pitches as he struck out the side.

In his place, veteran righty Aníbal Sánchez will get the nod as the Nationals go head-to-head with the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu. It’ll be Sánchez’s first postseason start since last year’s NLDS, when he dropped Game 2 to the Dodgers after issuing three runs, three strikeouts, and two home runs in 4 2/3 innings for the Braves. While he ran a decent campaign for Washington during the regular season, his 3.85 ERA, 2.31 SO/BB, and 2.5 fWAR paled in comparison to the numbers touted by Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Scherzer.

Still, it makes sense that the Nationals want to play it safe with their top-shelf starters, especially as they’ll face a non-clinching situation on Sunday. Should they take the lead in the series, they could wrap an NLDS win by Monday night, when they’re scheduled to host the Dodgers for Game 4.

Hinch, Luhnow, will be eligible in 2021 even if there are no games in 2020

A.J. Hinch (left) and Jeff Luhnow (right)
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You no doubt recall that former Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch and ex-Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow were given the one-year bans and were subsequently fired in January due to the Astros sign-stealing scandal. It’s possible, however, that each of them could be back in baseball without having missed a single game.

That’s the report from Buster Olney of ESPN, who has learned that Hinch and Luhnow will become eligible in 2021 even if there are no games played in the 2020 season. The reason: Hinch and Luhnow’s suspensions are tied to “the end of the 2020 postseason.” In contrast, players who are suspended for PED offenses for violations of the league’s domestic violence policies are suspended for a set number of games. Their suspensions will not begin until games begin and, if the number of games in the 2020 season ends up being fewer than the number of games in their suspension, it will carry over to 2021.

It would not shock me a bit if another team hired Hinch at some point down the road. And, despite the league’s finding that Luhnow fostered a “toxic” environment in the Astros’ front office, I would not be at all surprised if he were hired as some sort of advisor down the road and, potentially, found himself running a team again. His tenure in Houston was discovered to be objectively awful from an ethical perspective, but (a) he won; and (b) he cut costs, and those are the two biggest priorities for most teams. Not necessarily in that order.