2019 NLDS: Nationals Starting Anibal Sanchez In Game 3 Against Dodgers; Max Scherzer Pushed Back To Game 4

The Washington Nationals announced Anibal Sanchez will start against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the 2019 National League Division Series, pushing Max Scherzer back to Game 4 on Monday. The NLDS shifts to Nationals Park with the teams tied at one game apiece.

The Nationals avoided a 2-0 series deficit behind a stellar outing from Stephen Strasburg and scoreless inning in relief by Scherzer. The right-hander used the bullpen appearance as his throw day between starts, which prompted the change for Game 3.

“I talked to Max before the game. Today was his bullpen day, we held him back. He said he was good to go,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez explained. “I specifically told him that I will not use him in the ninth, but I would have to probably use him in the bridge, the sixth or seventh inning.”

Heading into Friday’s game, Martinez named Scherzer the club’s starter for Game 3. However, Martinez softened on that stance after his ace threw 14 pitches to strike out the side in the eighth inning.

“I’m going to see how he feels tomorrow,” Martinez said. “I want to make sure he gets a night. He’s working out right now and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

Sanchez went 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers this season. He allowed three runs on six hits (two home runs) in 4.1 innings in a start at Dodger Stadium in May, but was improved in a home outing two months later — logging seven innings of one-run ball.

In last year’s NLDS, the Dodgers scored three runs on five hits (two homers) off Sanchez in 4.2 innings. However, they were hit by Manny Machado and Yasmani Grandal.

With Sanchez now starting Game 3 and Scherzer going in Game 4, the Nationals presumably will have Patrick Corbin available out of the bullpen in one of the two contests. Strasburg is in line to start a potential Game 5 on regular rest.

The Nationals went into the NLDS anticipating scenarios where they would rely on their starters to pitch in relief. “Before we even got to the playoffs, our game plan was to try to utilize these guys the best way possible without disrupting their starts,” Martinez said.

“And we talked to all of them and they have all been on board. So it’s just part of it. When you get to these games, I’ve said this before, you’re playing to win one game. Every day’s crucial.”

The Dodgers are starting Hyun-Jin Ryu Sunday night, with Rich Hill expected to take the ball in Game 4.