WASHINGTON (AP) — The Nationals don't know which team they'll face in the NL wild-card game or where it will be played, but they do know this: Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer will be their starting pitcher.
Scherzer got the nod over Stephen Strasburg for Tuesday night's win-or-go-home game against either the Milwaukee Brewers or St. Louis Cardinals. Any of the three clubs could host the contest, depending how the rest of the regular season goes.
Washington manager Dave Martinez said Friday that the right-handed Strasburg and lefty starter Patrick Corbin will be on the wild-card roster and be available to pitch in relief.
"I talked to both of them," Martinez said. "They'll both be out of the 'pen that day. So all hands will be on deck."
How did Martinez decide to go with Scherzer, who missed most of July and August with a back muscle issue and finished with 27 starts, his fewest since his debut season in 2008?
"I based it on the bigger picture. Obviously, he feels good. And he's ready. He's going to have like seven, eight days' rest. I told him, 'You should go on regular routine and get ready for Tuesday,'" Martinez said. "With that being said, Strasburg is going to be on his regular rest and regular routine. So that's kind of nice, to have those two guys, plus Corbin, that will be on three days' rest if we need to put him in for an inning or two. He's available to do that, as well."
If Strasburg does not appear Tuesday and the Nationals win, he would start Game 1 or 2 of the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scherzer probably wouldn't be available until Game 3 of that potential series.
Washington's top trio formed among the best rotation fronts in the majors all season. All three finished in the NL's top 10 in ERA, strikeouts and hits allowed per nine innings.
Scherzer went 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA and 243 strikeouts in 172 1/3 innings.
Strasburg was 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 251 strikeouts in 209 innings.
Corbin went 14-7 with a 3.05 ERA and 230 strikeouts in 197 2/3 innings.