The Dodgers left San Francisco today with numerous reasons to celebrate. Not only had they just defeated their biggest rival in their first-ever playoff matchup, but they are now one step closer to their goal of back-to-back titles. Along with the celebration, however, there are also numerous questions left to be answered. The biggest one of all: who starts Game 1 of the NLCS?
On the even of the Championship Series, that question remains, as manager Dave Roberts was still unsure how his ace would be feeling after his appearance against the Giants on Thursday.
“[The pitchers] are going [to the park right now],” said Dave Roberts through zoom on Friday afternoon. “They’re going to play catch, get some treatment, and see how they feel. I should know later tonight how Max [Scherzer] feels. If not, we’re going to have to bullpen it and probably push guys back.”
The Dodgers wound up using Scherzer to get the final three outs of the series on Thursday night, which proved to be both successful and costly. On one hand, the move helped propel this team to the next round of the postseason, but it might have also come with a cost.
Heading into Game 5, Roberts was reluctant to use Scherzer in any capacity. Not only would he have been throwing on 2 days’ rest, but it could also affect his availability for the next series. Following the game, Roberts acknowledged the fact that using his best pitcher may have cost him a start in the following round.
“That’s the plan, but we knew going into tonight, that if we used him there might be a cost. We’ll talk to Max tomorrow and see where he’s at, but as of now, that’s where we’re at.”
It’s important to note that Scherzer only threw 13 pitches in relief on Thursday night, which could be seen as a regular bullpen session in between starts. Max even said that he had skipped his regular side session, which would have normally taken place one day earlier.
At the end of the day, no one should be surprised to see Max Scherzer taking the mound for Game 1 on Saturday evening. His competitiveness alone would be enough for him to go 4-5 innings, but throw in what a bullpen game would mean for the Dodgers in the first of seven games and you have enough motivation on all sides to try and make it happen.