Aníbal Sánchez will start Game 3 of the National League Division Series tonight, giving Max Scherzer an extra day to recover from his relief appearance before the Nationals ace likely starts Game 4 against the Dodgers on Monday.
The Nationals had delayed making a decision on tonight’s starter, wanting to see how Scherzer felt in the wake of his dominant, 14-pitch relief outing in Game 2 on Friday night. Originally announced as their Game 3 starter, Scherzer instead will be held back and should be fresher for Game 4 on Monday night.
Sánchez is plenty fresh; the veteran right-hander last pitched Sept. 25 against the Phillies. And he’ll enter tonight’s start knowing he dominated the Dodgers’ fearsome lineup the last time he faced it.
In a July 26 meeting at Nationals Park, Sánchez got into first inning trouble, giving up a quick run and loading the bases with one out. But he escaped the jam and then proceeded to retire 20 batters in a row, ultimately allowing just the one run on three hits over seven dominant innings.
The 35-year-old went 11-8 with a 3.85 ERA during the regular season, but he enjoyed a dramatic turnaround after brief stint on the injured list with a strained hamstring. Over his final 21 starts, he went 11-2 with a 3.42 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.
This is Sánchez’s ninth career postseason appearance, his eighth start, all but one of the previous outings coming for the Tigers. He’s 2-5 with a 3.12 ERA overall. He started Game 2 of last season’s NLDS for the Braves, giving up three runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Dodgers.
If Sánchez struggles tonight, the Nationals could turn to rookie Austin Voth in relief to get the ball to the rest of the bullpen. Game 1 starter Patrick Corbin may also be available for an inning, just as Scherzer was Friday night at Dodger Stadium.