After relief outing, Strasburg will start Game 2 (Nats fall 6-0)

LOS ANGELES - Stephen Strasburg and Davey Martinez spoke Wednesday evening, after the Nationals arrived here following a long flight from Washington following an emotional win over the Brewers in the National League wild card game. Strasburg had thrown 34 pitches in three innings of scoreless relief to help lift his team to victory in that do-or-die showdown. Now Martinez wanted to know if the right-hander was ready to start Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Friday night.

Strasburg wanted to see how he felt after a good night's sleep, so they planned to meet again this morning to revisit the subject. And when that meeting took place, Strasburg gave a definitive answer.

"Without hesitation, he says: 'I want the ball. I'm ready to pitch. I feel great,'" Martinez said.

And so it will be that Strasburg will take the mound at Dodger Stadium sometime after 9:30 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, prepared to make his first start of this postseason only three days after he made his first career relief appearance.

Strasburg-NLDS-Podium-Sidebar.jpgStrasburg shrugged this off as nothing excessively out of the ordinary for him.

"I'm just one of 25 guys, and we have had an amazing run all the way to this point," he said. "Excited to get the opportunity to keep it going. But really, I mean ... my arm's felt great all year, and my routine's kind of improved this year over previous seasons."

The Nationals knew they were taking a risk using Strasburg in relief of Max Scherzer on Tuesday, that such a move might prevent them from having either of their top two starters available until Game 3 of the NLDS. But they also knew they wouldn't reach the NLDS without winning the wild card game, so they didn't hesitate to let Strasburg pitch the sixth, seventh and eighth innings against Milwaukee.

They were prepared to go with Aníbal Sánchez in Game 2 if needed, but now they'll have Strasburg following Game 1 starter Patrick Corbin, with Scherzer likely to start Game 3 on Sunday night at Nationals Park.

Strasburg, like all pitchers, throws a side session in the bullpen between starts. The Nats decided to treat Tuesday's game appearance as the equivalent of such a session.

"For me, it's like he threw a side of 34 pitches with intensity," Martinez said. "That's the way I looked at it the other day. He says he feels really good, so he's ready to go."

That might be a bit of a stretch. Strasburg admitted as much.

"It was definitely the most adrenaline I've ever had for a bullpen," he said with a smirk when asked about Martinez's comparison. "I mean, it felt good."

Strasburg will be opposed Friday night by Clayton Kershaw, who was named the Dodgers' Game 2 starter by manager Dave Roberts. Cy Young Award candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game 3 on Sunday.

Update: Corbin had a nightmare of a first inning tonight in his first career postseason start. The lefty could not find the strike zone, especially with his slider, constantly missing down and in to right-handed batters. He walked four in the inning, and that allowed a run to score. Somehow, that's all the Dodgers got, though. Corbin bounced back in the second, throwing 11 of 14 pitches for strikes. But L.A. leads 1-0 in the third.

Update II: Corbin has battled his way back. And he should've been out of the fifth with still just the one run across the plate. But Howie Kendrick let Max Muncy's hard grounder go through his legs for his second error of the night, and the Dodgers made it 2-0 as a result.

Update III: The seventh inning bullpen woes struck hard. Tanner Rainey allowed two of the three batters he faced to reach. Fernando Rodney then allowed both of them to score via Muncy's two-out, two-run single. It's 4-0 Dodgers, and the Nats are running out of time.

Update IV: Pinch-hitter Gavin Lux and Joc Pederson homered off Hunter Strickland in the eighth to make it a 6-0 Dodgers lead.

Update V: The Nationals are held to two hits and the Dodgers win Game 1 of the NLDS 6-0.

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NLDS Game 1 lineups: Nats at Dodgers

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