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.