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Scherzer to start Closing Day, IF ... ?

Right-hander wants to pitch if game has postseason implications for Rockies; Zimmerman shut down for final series
September 28, 2018

DENVER -- Sunday's regular-season finale at Coors Field will make no difference in the standings for the Nationals, already eliminated from postseason contention, but it has a chance to be an important game for the Rockies. The Nationals have officially listed "TBA" as their scheduled starter for Sunday afternoon, but

DENVER -- Sunday's regular-season finale at Coors Field will make no difference in the standings for the Nationals, already eliminated from postseason contention, but it has a chance to be an important game for the Rockies. The Nationals have officially listed "TBA" as their scheduled starter for Sunday afternoon, but Max Scherzer would be ready to pitch on regular rest.
And it appears that if that game carries postseason implications for Colorado, both the Nationals and Scherzer want him to make his final start. The Rockies currently lead the National League West by one game and could clinch a postseason berth as soon as Friday night against the Nats.
"If there's an elimination game on the line here against the Rockies, they want me to pitch," Scherzer said. "And for me the way I look at it, if there's a playoff atmosphere on the line where somebody can get knocked out, that's a heck of an environment to pitch in.
"Even though we're playing for nothing, at least we can be able to toe the rubber knowing that the atmosphere here with the crowd and the other team would be playing at probably the highest level of any point I would face this year. Why wouldn't I want to compete in that?"
Scherzer left his last outing Tuesday feeling content with his season after making 33 starts, throwing 220 2/3 innings with 18 wins and 300 strikeouts. It has made him one of the frontrunners for the NL Cy Young award, although the Mets' Jacob deGrom has emerged as the favorite recently.

When Scherzer was chasing 300 strikeouts, the Nats aligned their rotation to give him an extra start to make if necessary, so when he reached the milestone Tuesday, Scherzer assumed he would be shut down. That left him surprised when the Nats were so open to the idea of him pitching Sunday.
So while Scherzer is willing to let the Nationals make the final decision, he is currently preparing to pitch, throwing his usual bullpen session Thursday and going through his usual mental preparation.
"I want to pitch," he said. "But I also respect the decision if the Nationals decide they want to go in a different direction."
Back injury could finish Zimmerman's season
Ryan Zimmerman's sore back kept him out of Friday night's game against the Rockies and could result in the end of his season. Zimmerman says his back issue is not serious and he would be able to play if these final three games had postseason implications, but he does not want to risk further injury headed into the offseason.
Zimmerman initially felt the injury to his back during the team's home finale Wednesday and he was taken out of the game in the third inning. He has battled the back issues on a few separate occasions, but normally it clears up after getting treatment. So while he did not rule out playing the next few days, he will remain cautious.
"We'll see how it feels each day," he said. "But yeah we're not going to risk it. We're not going to go out there and play these last few games with the realization that you could do something to kind of set you back in the offseason. That doesn't really make sense."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.