WASHINGTON — Max Scherzer did not throw the bullpen session that he was expected to on Wednesday to test his bothersome right hamstring, and Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the team hasn’t determined when the two-time Cy Young Award winner will start against the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs.
After Rizzo spoke with reporters during Washington’s second NL Division Series workout at Nationals Park, Scherzer headed out to right field and threw on flat ground in the grass for nearly 15 minutes. Then the right-hander stopped and had a lengthy chat with team trainer Paul Lessard.
Neither Scherzer, who tweaked his leg during his last regular-season start, nor manager Dusty Baker was available to the media Wednesday.
Game 1 of the NLDS against the reigning World Series champions is at Washington on Friday, with Game 2 on Saturday. Rizzo would not say whether Scherzer is likeliest to appear in one of those — or even in Game 3 at Wrigley Field on Monday.
"We haven’t made the decision of when we’re going to pencil him in yet, as far as where he’s going to pitch in the rotation here in the playoffs. Suffice it to say he’s going to pitch in the playoffs here against the Cubs," Rizzo said. "It just depends on how he feels."
Scherzer won last year’s NL Cy Young Award for Washington and the 2013 AL honour for the Detroit Tigers.
This season, he at least will get some consideration for yet another award after topping the NL in strikeouts with 268 and finishing second with a 2.51 ERA, while leading the Nationals in wins at 16-6.
"The reason for holding him back would be the concern on the hamstring," Rizzo said. "We want him to be as close to 100 per cent as we can get for him to pitch."
Stephen Strasburg threw a bullpen session off a mound on Tuesday.
Asked whether it’s safe to assume that Strasburg — 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA and 204 strikeouts in 2017 — will pitch in Game 1 against the Cubs, Rizzo said that is not set in stone.
"We haven’t confirmed that yet. But he’s certainly a capable No. 1 starter in the playoffs," the GM said about the No. 1 overall pick in baseball’s 2009 amateur draft. "We feel good about running him out there if he were the guy. And who better? We have two aces, and one of them will pitch Game 1."
While Washington keeps waiting to announce its playoff rotation, the Cubs made their starting staff known Wednesday: Kyle Hendricks in Game 1, Jon Lester in Game 2, Jose Quintana in Game 3, and Jake Arrieta in Game 4, if necessary.