Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer missed the first two games of the National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs due to a hamstring injury, but he is slated to start Monday's clash.
Scherzer left his final start of the regular season after just 3.3 shutout innings because of hamstring tightness. The injury forced the five-time MLB All-Star to move back in Washington's playoff rotation.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner, however, is ready to return for game three against the reigning World Series champions, with the series even after two contests.
"It was a process of going through every scenario and weighing the risk versus reward of knowing that I probably wasn't going to be able to pitch game one," Scherzer in a news conference on Sunday.
"And then looking at the schedule here for five games, and knowing that Strasburg could pitch one and five; that by pitching game three, that gives us a couple extra days to build extra strength into my leg, which I needed, and also provides the possibility that if you do pitch game three, that you could be in relief for game five, if need be."
Scherzer, fresh off an NL Cy Young award, is a contender to repeat after finishing the season 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA and 268 strikeouts.
The 33-year-old said he has no trouble taking himself out of a start if he feels an injury developing.
"I've always been very straightforward when you start dealing with injuries," Scherzer added. "You always have to communicate with the trainers and the manager and the pitching coach exactly where you're at.
"That's where you have to be able to say no; over the course of the season, there's been times where I definitely have said hey, I'm not good to go in this particular instance. Because I feel like if you're able to say no, when you do say yes, that holds a lot more weight to it."
Heading to Chicago, Scherzer will face off against Cubs starter Jose Quintana. He knows he has to take care of business against Chicago's explosive line-up.
"Without tipping my hand, I think the obvious is there. We've seen where they [Cubs] have got — where they produce most of their runs. Their top of the order is as good as anybody in baseball," Scherzer said. "It's going to be just going out there — it's playoffs. Anybody can beat anybody. Any player can take you deep at any moment in today's ballgame. You just have to go out there and execute pitches.
"There's really no secret to this; that everybody's — they are going to have a game plan against me and I'm going to have a game plan against them. It just comes down to execution."
|Cavs coach Lue steps away from job due to health reasons|
|Thunder end Raptors´ streak, Davis stars|
|Stars goalie Bishop expected to miss at least two weeks|
|Pistons got absolutely screwed - Van Gundy slams officiating in loss to Trail Blazers|
|LeBron James: Cavs worried about Lue health|
|Australia to host two games against Team USA in 2019|
|Grizzlies snap 19-game losing streak, LeBron´s triple-double lifts Cavs|
|NFL Draft 2018: Jets acquire number three overall pick from Colts|
|UMBC´s March Madness win earns everyone in USA free pizza|
|Markelle Fultz´s return remains a mystery to Brett Brown|
|Thunder claim key win, injury-ravaged Warriors fall to Kings|
|J.J. Watt breaks news of Tyrann Mathieu´s deal with Texans|
|Super Bowl champion LeGarrette Blount joins Lions|
|Warriors star Durant to miss at least two weeks with rib injury|
|Doc Rivers fined $15,000 for calling officiating ´complete joke´|
|Ravens sign WR Michael Crabtree to three-year deal|
|Vikings sign DT Sheldon Richardson|
|Vikings celebrate Cousins capture as AFC lags behind in NFL ´arms´ race|
|LeBron delivers massive dunk as Cavs fall to Trail Blazers|
|Rivers slams officials after Clippers´ loss to Rockets|
|Hawks´ Schroder: Howard only cares against his former teams|
|Vikings sign Cousins to record contract|
|Redskins sign Smith to contract extension|
|Wizards sneak past Celtics in double OT, Durant leads Warriors|
|Richburg signs multi-year deal with 49ers|
|Bills sign QB McCarron to two-year deal|
|Murcia dump out holders Tenerife to reach last eight|
|Browns tackle Thomas announces retirement|
|Mathieu nearing Cardinals exit|
|Cleveland Browns stalwart Joe Thomas announces retirement|
|Stephen Curry at 30: The numbers behind an illustrious career|
|Breaking down Russell Westbrook´s 100 triple-doubles|
|I´m like fine wine - LeBron James after career-high 14th triple-double|
|Westbrook, Simmons add to triple-double prowess|
|Titans to add another ex-Patriot in RB Lewis|
|Warriors star Curry to miss at least another week|
|Canadiens All-Star defenseman Weber out for season|
|Jets to sign QB Bridgewater to one-year deal|
|Jets set to sign DB Johnson|
|QB McCown signs new Jets deal amid Bridgewater rumours|
|Monaco cruise into BCL last eight in front of Prince Albert II|
|Titans to sign former Patriots CB Malcolm Butler to five-year deal|
|Former Raiders CB Smith to serve year in jail for assault|
|Packers releasing Jordy Nelson, signing Jimmy Graham|
|Cardinals release RB Adrian Peterson|
|QB Sam Bradford expected to sign with Cardinals|
|Danny Amendola set to swap Patriots for Dolphins|
|Kirk Cousins ´likely to sign with Vikings´ after visit|
|Drew Brees staying with Saints in reported two-year, $50m deal|
|Chiefs agree to terms with WR Sammy Watkins|
|Robinson reportedly set to join Bears|
|Keenum expected to sign with Broncos|
|Jake Arrieta pens heartfelt letter to Cubs after joining Phillies|
|Houston top San Antonio as Spurs´ woes continue|
|Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin nets 600th career NHL goal|
|Kirk Cousins pens emotional letter to Redskins fans|
|Dolphins expected to release DT Ndamukong Suh|
|LOOK: Tom Brady offers first glimpse at gashed hand|
|LeBron James blames Cavaliers´ woes on team injuries|
|Kyrie Irving hints at extended rest due to knee injury|
|Sherman: Chance to face Seahawks behind 49ers move|
|Thomas helps Lakers to win over LeBron, Cavs|
|Cavs lose Osman for at least two weeks, Hood day-to-day with back strain|
|Chargers sign CB Hayward to three-year extension|
|Westbrook´s triple-double leads Thunder past Spurs|
|Richard Sherman set to join 49ers|
|Royals RF Bonifacio handed 80-game ban after testing positive for steroids|
|JuJu Smith-Schuster steps up campaign for LeBron James to join Steelers|
|Rockets, Pelicans and Warriors see winning streaks end as Cavs fall|
|Browns trade for Bills QB Taylor, Landry expected to join|