Scherzer’s aim: just the ‘same’

Baltimore Sun - - MLB PLAYOFFS - By Howard Fendrich

As sen­sa­tional as Clay­ton Ker­shaw has been through­out his ca­reer, he has strug­gled in the post­sea­son. The three­time Cy Young Award win­ner and 2014 NL MVP is 2-6 with a 4.59 ERA in seven play­off se­ries since 2008. It re­mains to be seen if the Dodgers would start him on three days’ rest in Game 4. Ker­shaw missed more than two months with a back in­jury be­fore re­turn­ing in Septem­ber. Limp­ing in: Na­tion­als ace Stephen Stras­burg fin­ished the sea­son on the dis­abled list and is un­avail­able for the NLDS. There are also in­jury con­cerns with the lineup. Bryce Harper missed four games late with a sore left thumb, then went 1-for-11 with eight strike­outs in the last three games. Daniel Mur­phy hasn’t started since Sept. 17 be­cause of a strained glute, and All-Star catcher Wil­son Ramos is done af­ter tear­ing up his right knee in Septem­ber. Young star: Trea Turner added en­ergy, elite speed and sur­pris­ing pop to the Na­tion­als lineup when he be­came a fix­ture in the lead­off spot. He’s only 23 and in­ex­pe­ri­enced — just 347 ma­jor-league at-bats — and is learn­ing cen­ter field on the fly af­ter be­ing a mid­dle in­fielder. But he might be the Nats’ big­gest threat on of­fense at the mo­ment. AP

WASH­ING­TON — Max Scherzer re­mem­bers be­ing urged to try to slow ev­ery­thing down for his post­sea­son de­but five years ago.

Take an ex­tra breath, they said. Be as calm as can be, they said. Dial down the in­ten­sity, they said.

Not ex­actly what he needed to hear, Scherzer quickly dis­cov­ered.

Scherzer, who starts Game 1 of the NLDS for the Na­tion­als against Clay­ton Ker­shaw and the Dodgers to­day, was fed those fre­quently heard words of wis­dom way back when.

Pitch­ing for the Tigers at Yan­kee Sta­dium, he walked two bat­ters in the first in­ning. That’s when he cursed at him­self and re­al­ized he never should have lis­tened to oth­ers — and wound up tak­ing a no-hit bid into the sixth.

Scherzer is as in­tense as they come when he’s pitch­ing, and he needed to main­tain that in the post­sea­son.

“What­ever you do to have suc­cess in the reg­u­lar sea­son, do the ex­act same thing,” he said. “Yes, the lights are brighter, the seats are all full, the start times are weird. There’s tons of me­dia. You have a lot of dis­trac­tions; you’ve got fam­ily and friends all want­ing tick­ets. The out­side things are a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent, but men­tally, you have to still be the same.

“I know there’s this no­tion of, ‘Hey, just go out there and re­lax. Try to slow the game down.’ That can be the worst ad­vice. No, you hit the ground run­ning and do ex­actly what you do. If you go out with ag­gres­sion in the reg­u­lar sea­son, you do the same thing.”

So expect to see Scherzer stomp­ing and stalk­ing around the Na­tion­als Park mound while fac­ing Corey Sea­ger, Adrian Gon­za­lez, Justin Turner and Co.

And they know what they’re in for, even if the Dodgers didn’t face Scherzer in 2016, when he went 20-7 with a 2.96 ERA and a ma­jors-lead­ing 284 strike­outs, in­clud­ing a record­ty­ing 20 in one game.

“Ob­vi­ously, he’s a really good pitcher,” said Turner, who has never bat­ted against Scherzer. “We’re go­ing to go study up on him and watch the films and put to­gether a game plan.”

ALEX BRAN­DON/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Game 1: 5:30 p.m. to­day Dodgers (Ker­shaw 12-4) at Na­tion­als (Scherzer 20-7), FS1 Game 2: 4 p.m. Satur­day Dodgers (Hill 12-5) at Na­tion­als (Roark 16-10), FS1 Game 3: TBA Mon­day Na­tion­als (Gon­za­lez 11-11) at Dodgers (Maeda 16-10), FS1 or MLB Game 4: TBA Tues­day* Na­tion­als at Dodgers, FS1 Game 5: TBA Thurs­day* Dodgers at Na­tion­als, FS1 x-if nec­es­sary Nats starter Max Scherzer went 20-7 with a 2.96 ERA and a ma­jors-lead­ing 284 strike­outs dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son.

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