Scherzer’s aim: just the ‘same’
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.”
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.