ATLANTA – Max Scherzer would be in charge of making the first pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, just two days after he made the last pitch to eliminate the San Francisco Giants.
Unusual? Yes, but nobody is surprised.
“That’s Scherzer,” said teammate Cody Bellinger.
Scherzer would face the left-hander Max Fried, in the first game against the Atlanta Braves. It is a reissue of the previous year’s championship series, when the Dodgers beat the Braves in the decisive seventh game.
Then Los Angeles conquered the World Series.
Dodges manager Dave Roberts revealed his plans to place Scherzer in the first game even after the NL Cy Young trophy contender made the first save of his life in Thursday’s 2-2 win. -1 on the Giants, to resolve the divisional series.
After that matchup, Roberts said he understood that “there would be a cost” to using Scherzer as closer. Now, the Dodgers must quickly recover from wear and tear to begin the championship series.
And beyond the cost, the plan is for Scherzer to be the starter.
“That wouldn’t surprise me,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said before practice at Truist Park on Friday.
Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman said he wondered who would pitch the ninth inning for Los Angeles on Thursday as he watched the game on television.
“And then they showed Max, going up on the mound, and I was like, ‘That’s the guy!'” Freeman recounted. “I think they didn’t want anyone other than Max to appear in that game.”
Fried was the first-game starter for Atlanta after Charlie Morton pitched with little rest in Tuesday’s game as the Braves clinched the victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in the division series.
Along with Morton and Ian Anderson, Fried provides Snitker with a reliable three-man rotation. Snitker envisions a game in which he would draw on relievers from the start, including Huascar Ynoa and Drew Smyly.
Last year, when the Braves lost to the Dodgers in the championship series, Fried was joined in the rotation by three rookies – Anderson, Hyle Wright and Bryse Wilson.
Led by Morton, Fried and Anderson, the Braves delivered two shutouts in the division series against Milwaukee. Atlanta limited the Brewers to six runs in four games.
“I feel really good for the three guys that we’re going to include,” Snitker said. “I would say that there is a significant difference from the previous year, when we started the tournament.”