When Tuesday’s scheduled game four of the National League Division Series was rained out in Wrigley Field, it gave the Washington Nationals hope that star pitcher Stephen Strasburg would get be on the mound with their season in the balance when they played the Chicago Cubs.
The Nationals came up just short of taking a commanding league on Monday when a brain fart by manager Dusty Baker yanked red-hot Max Scherzer after he had just surrendered his first hit of the day in the seventh inning.
The Nats had it all going in their favor. Scherzer was throwing heat and a horrific miscalculation by Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber that resulted in two errors on the same play had demoralized the Wrigley faithful.
— Cautiously Optimistic (@CautiouslyPod) October 9, 2017
Then Baker pulled Scherzer and allowed the Cubs to get back into the game and a chance to close out the series today.
Strasburg won’t play, leaving the team’s fate in the hands of Tanner Roark in a hitter’s park against an explosive team.
There is some confusion as to why Strasburg isn’t going to go today. At first, it was a coaching decision but the pitcher later said that he was sick.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) October 11, 2017
This was going to be Stephen Strasburg’s moment of glory.
The time he took the ball, thanks to Tuesday night’s rainout in Game 4 at Wrigley Field, and saved the Washington Nationals’ season.
It would be his opportunity to be a hero in Washington, erasing those painful memories of 2012 when he was shut down for the playoffs, perhaps ruining the Nationals’ best chance to win a World Series.
The Nationals were all set to pitch him Wednesday in Game 4 at 4:08 p.m. ET (TBS) at Wrigley Field, trailing 2-1 to the Chicago Cubs, only for Strasburg to decline.
He told them he’s under the weather.
He informed the Nationals’ staff that he ran a half-mile Tuesday afternoon, was wheezing during his run and simply isn’t prepared to start Wednesday, even though he’d be on regular rest, according to a person with direct knowledge of the Nationals’ pitching plans.
The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations.
It’s unknown whether Strasburg will be ready for game five if the Nats manage to survive today or if he has a change of heart and pitches.
Needless to say, without their ace – who was on fire in game one but lost due to an Anthony Rendon miscue – there may not be a decisive game in Washington.
Today’s crucial contest starts at 4 pm ET
UPDATE: It is now being reported that Strasburg has had that change of heart and will start the game after all.