First things first, who starts Game #5 tonight? Many choices and strategies!

These are the good problems to have when you are contemplating in reality who will be your game #5 starter.

“I’m not trying to be coy at all, because that was the theme of the day with [Stephen Strasburg],” Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker said. “Whoever it is, I hope they pitch like Stras did [in game #4].”

Once the Nationals won the exciting game #4 last night it automatically made game #5 tonight a reality. We know Stephen Strasburg won’t be starting or pitching tonight and if all goes well the next time you will see him on a mound will be next week in game #3. That is part of Dusty Baker’s debacle as well as the Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon’s. You can pitch everybody and then have nobody for Saturday and Sunday night in the NLCS as one of these two teams will be moving forward.

Dusty Baker has Gio Gonzalez on regular rest available and Tanner Roark with extra rest. Max Scherzer is certainly available for at least 1 inning. The only pitchers that Dusty Baker would like to rest is Strasburg and Ryan Madson who threw 27 high-stress pitches last night, but because this is an elimination game (for both teams) you can expect that everyone really is available if needed.

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

The strategy would be to go with Tanner Roark to start tonight’s game to get Joe Maddon to commit to his “lefty” platoon line-up with his lefty outfield and then in the second or third inning bring in the left-handed Gio Gonzalez to take advantage of that lefty line-up and go as far as he can go.

You will notice that Dusty Baker has yet to use Enny Romero in any of these games. This was a fear that Dusty would not trust him and many favored A.J. Cole over him as a righty who could give length. Ollie Perez and Brandon Kintzler both warmed last night, and only Madson and Sean Doolittle actually were needed in relief last night.

This most interesting card of Dusty Baker’s sleeve has to be Max Scherzer who has made 2  post-season relief appearances in his career, but they weren’t good. Max appeared in 2 games for his ex-team the Tigers and gave up 2 earnies in 3 1/3 innings of relief work on short-rest. This year, Max Scherzer entered the All-Star Game as a reliever and threw gas for one inning reaching 99+.

On an aside and speaking of pitcher’s mounds, the last time we saw Michael Morse he was a member of the San Francisco Giants and came in defense of his buddy Bryce Harper in a team brawl with Hunter Strickland. Tonight, the Nationals honor Mikey Mo with the ceremonial first pitch!

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