Hmmm - Max Scherzer Skipped His Bullpen Session Today

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Hmmm – Max Scherzer Skipped His Bullpen Session Today

Chicago Cubs

Earlier today, the Cubs announced the order of their starting rotation for the upcoming NLDS against the Nationals, with Kyle Hendricks picked as the Game One starter. The Nationals, however, have made no such proclamations yet.

Of course, as recently as 11:00 am this morning, that announcement was expected to come some time tomorrow, after Max Scherzer, who’s been suffering from some sort of minor hamstring issue, got a chance to hit the mound:

At the time, the general consensus was that Scherzer would probably not go in Game One no matter what (at this point), given that Stephen Strasburg is a sufficiently good starter to take his place (and he is) and Scherzer could use the extra day of rest. “We really haven’t determined what game we’re eyeing yet,” said Scherzer via “The first and foremost thing is just making sure that whenever I do take the ball, I’m able to go out there and compete the way I’m able to compete.”

So that, alone (i.e. not starting game one (and, thus, twice in the series)), would’ve been a win for the Cubs, who would probably rather face a healthy Strasburg twice as opposed to a healthy Scherzer twice.

And yet, just a few hours later, there may be another wrinkle to the story:

Jamal Collier (MLB) tweets that Scherzer did not take his regularly scheduled bullpen session today and many others, like Chelsea Janes (Washington Post), echoed those reports. That’s quite notable not only because it further verifies that he’s almost definitely not going to start Game One, but also because it puts Scherzer’s entire NLDS spot up in the air. I will point out that many seem to be guessing Game Three, but that may well be speculative at this point.

If, by some stroke of luck (not that you should be rooting for injury), the Nationals push Scherzer back to Game Four, there’s a chance the Cubs can escape the NLDS without having to face the presumed 2017 NL Cy Young winner. Alternatively, if they force him up a game, it’s entirely possible he’s not able to “compete the way [he’s] able to compete,” and the Cubs catch a break.

In either case, it’s hard to say the Nationals got *good* news today, regarding Scherzer, and that can have a huge swing on the odds of this series. My best bet is that Scherzer is lined up for Game Three or Game Four at this point. If the Nats are willing to bet that the series will last at least four games, they’d probably do well to sit him until Game Four on the belief that Scherzer will be at his best with as much rest as possible.

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Interestingly, the Cubs are going through almost the exact same thing with Jake Arrieta, whom they just named as their Game Four starter earlier today. Had he been healthy throughout September, he was the sure-fire Game One guy. But after missing his final regular season start, and then a simulated game today (opting instead for a bullpen session), he’s been moved back to Game Four.

This is all very dramatic stuff and should add to the intrigue of what already figured to be a thrilling Divisional Series.

Stay tuned, as I’m guessing we’ll be hearing more soon.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami