It ends speculation about when Scherzer would make his 2017 postseason debut, as his status had been unclear while he has been nursing a sore right hamstring. He finally threw a bullpen session on Friday afternoon, which lines him up to make his 13th career postseason start on Monday.
"Today he threw some, yesterday it was determined that we would be better if we waited until Game 3," manager Dusty Baker said.
Scherzer, who is on a short list of NL favorites to win his third Cy Young Award, suffered the injury in his Sept. 30 start against the Pirates. He has said the injury does not bother him while running or walking, but only when he tries to push off the rubber on the mound.
The Nats did not want to risk the right-hander's health in pushing him to start one of the first two games, both in Washington, though by starting him in Game 3, they will likely lose the chance for him to make two starts in this series. In addition, with Scherzer going in Game 3, that points to the likelihood of Tanner Roark starting Game 4.
"We realize that if [Scherzer] pitched Game 2, he could probably pitch Game 5 if necessary," Baker said on Thursday. "We realize that, but is that worth taking a chance? And if you get past the first round, then are you jeopardizing the second round? So you have to kind of weigh both. But you know, the health of Max -- I think -- is No. 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.