Scherzer plays catch, but no bullpen session

Scherzer plays catch, but no bullpen session

WASHINGTON -- Nationals ace Max Scherzer did not throw his expected bullpen session during the Nationals' workout Wednesday afternoon, which was supposed to be the latest test of his right hamstring injury. He did play catch in the outfield, however, in addition to throwing off flat ground for about 10 minutes, but he never made it to a mound.

NLDS Game 1: Tonight, 7:30 p.m. ET on TBS

Game Date Matchup TV/Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 CHC 3, WSH 0 WATCH
Gm 2 Oct. 7 WSH 6, CHC 3 WATCH
Gm 3 Oct. 9 CHC 2, WSH 1 WATCH
Gm 4 Oct. 11 WSH 5, CHC 0 WATCH
Gm 5 Oct. 12 CHC 9, WSH 8 WATCH

The Nationals still have yet to reveal their rotation to face the Cubs for the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile, although they are expected to name their Game 1 starter on Thursday. And at this point that will almost certainly be right-hander Stephen Strasburg considering Scherzer has still yet to throw a bullpen.

General manager Mike Rizzo said the Nationals have not confirmed the decision to start Strasburg in the series opener and were waiting to see how Scherzer feels after Wednesday to figure out which date he was being targeted for.

"We haven't made the decision of when we're going to pencil him in yet as far as where he's going to pitch in the rotation here in the playoffs," Rizzo said. "Suffice it to say he's going to pitch in the playoffs here against the Cubs. It just depends on how he feels, which game we're going to implement him in."

However, the possibility is increasing that Scherzer might not be ready to start until Game 3.

Scherzer did not address the media Wednesday, but earlier in the week he pointed out that even if he started one of the first two games, he would still be able to start a potential Game 5 on normal rest. Still, he has not been ruled out to pitch in Saturday's Game 2. If he can complete a bullpen session by Thursday, he would still line up in time.

If Scherzer cannot pitch until the series shifts to Chicago, however, it would limit his impact to just one game in the series.

"The reason for holding him back would be the concern on the hamstring," Rizzo said. "We want him to be as close to 100 percent as we can get for him to pitch."

The Nats have the luxury of turning instead to Strasburg, who was named the NL Pitcher of the Month in September. He finished the second half with the lowest ERA in the Majors at 0.86.

"He's certainly a capable No. 1 starter in the playoffs," Rizzo said. "We feel good about running him out there if he were the guy. And who better? We have two aces, and one of them will pitch Game 1."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.