ST. LOUIS -- Max Scherzer grew up here. He went to high school 20 miles away from the previous Busch Stadium, where he went to Cardinals games as a kid. He pitched in college at the University of Missouri. His parents still live in the area. But don’t expect Scherzer
ST. LOUIS -- Max Scherzer grew up here. He went to high school 20 miles away from the previous Busch Stadium, where he went to Cardinals games as a kid. He pitched in college at the University of Missouri. His parents still live in the area. But don’t expect Scherzer to get sentimental, especially not on the eve of his start in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
“At this point in time it really doesn't mean anything because I’ve got a bigger task at hand,” Scherzer said. “That's to go out here and win it for the Nats. That's where my mind's at.”
The Nationals will give Scherzer the ball on normal rest on Saturday, after he and the rest of the team’s rotation spent the NLDS pitching out of the bullpen in between starts.
After tossing five innings in the Wild Card Game, Scherzer came back to pitch a scoreless eighth inning in Game 2 of the Division Series three days later. And with the Nationals trailing the series two games to one, Scherzer’s performance in Game 4 (seven innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts) was a major reason why the Nationals forced the series back to Los Angeles for Game 5. This postseason, Scherzer owns a 2.77 ERA with 16 strikeouts and six walks in 13 innings.
Scherzer admitted after Game 4, however, that his arm was gassed. He was surprised how good he felt playing catch leading up to Game 5 and even told the coaching staff he was available to face a few batters if necessary. Scherzer was willing to take the ball at every turn during the NLDS, but before Game 1 on Friday, he sounded hesitant to continue coming out of the bullpen over the course of a seven-game series.
“In the seven-game series, the way you're set up, this is more like the regular season,” Scherzer said. “You can't be coming out of the 'pen in the same form or fashion unless you're not going to be making your start. So for me it's probably just pitch Game 2 and then wait for my next start.”
By lining Scherzer up for Game 2, it should allow the Nationals to use Stephen Strasburg on regular rest in Game 3 and bring Patrick Corbin back for Game 4. If the series continues beyond that point, Washington could have its aces lined up for the final two games, using Scherzer in Game 6 and Strasburg for Game 7 in St. Louis.
At least at the start of this NLCS, it sounds like Nationals manager Dave Martinez will aim to get past the Cardinals using his starters in more traditional roles.
“We’ve got to get these guys ready to start their game, especially the first couple games here,” Martinez said. ‘After that anything can happen. But I'm excited that he's going to pitch Game 2, so let's get him ready for Game 2.”
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.