Max Scherzer helped to seal a Game 2 victory for the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series on Friday night in Los Angeles, throwing 14 pitches in relief of Stephen Strasburg.
But his eighth-inning appearance, combined with a start Tuesday night in a wild-card win over the Milwaukee Brewers, has knocked Scherzer out of his planned start against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a pivotal Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Sunday evening in Washington, D.C.
The 35-year-old Scherzer now is expected to start Game 4, and he’s fine about taking the ball whenever manager Dave Martinez gives it to him.
“This is the playoffs,” said Scherzer, who has 109 strikeouts in 88 innings in his postseason career. “You lay it on the line every time you touch that field. Whenever I get the ball next, I get the ball, and just lay it on the line.”
Meanwhile, the Dodgers will turn to one of their most consistent veterans to try to regain the series edge.
Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the mound for Los Angeles after posting a 14-5 record with a 2.32 ERA in 29 starts during the regular season. He boasts a 2.98 ERA in 126 career games (125 starts) and is 2-1 with a 1.35 ERA in five career starts against Washington.
However, the month of October has not been as kind to Ryu, who is 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA in seven career playoff starts.
“The mindset has to change when it comes to postseason games,” Ryu said. “I feel healthier this season compared to the past seasons. But I guess my job is to go out there and make sure to put up zeros and try to give up the least amount of runs as a starting pitcher and just go hard from the get-go. I think there’s a little change in that respect.”
Right-hander Sanchez went 11-8 with a 3.85 ERA in 30 starts this season and is 1-3 with a 3.53 ERA in nine career starts against the Dodgers.
Washington could be without 22-year-old outfielder Victor Robles, who left Friday’s game after injuring his hamstring while running down the first base line. He hit .255 with 17 homers, 65 RBIs and 28 stolen bases in 155 games in the regular season.
The Dodgers are expected to maintain the same position players as in Game 2 except for inserting veteran catcher Russell Martin in place of rookie Will Smith. The 36-year-old Martin has served as Ryu’s catcher for much of the season and brings with him 57 games of playoff experience with the Dodgers, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays.
“If you look at his career, he’s had an amazing career,” Ryu said. “So, from the get-go, you have to respect that. And he’s been an incredible help in terms of communicating and being on the same page.”
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)