Dodgers manager Dave Roberts learned that Max Scherzer wasn’t starting for the Washington Nationals on Sunday like most people — on social media. It came as a surprise. The Dodgers departed AT&T Park on Saturday after a playoff-berth-clinching celebration believing Scherzer, the two-time defending National League Cy Young Award winner, would pitch against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
The Dodgers cared because they were tied with the Rockies atop the NL West. A win Sunday over the San Francisco Giants combined with a Rockies loss would’ve given the Dodgers their sixth consecutive division title. Scherzer boosted the chances for that scenario. Instead, Erick Fedde, a rookie with a 5.24 earned-run average, got the start for Washington at Denver.
The Dodgers thrashed the Giants 15-0, but the Rockies trounced Fedde and the Nationals, setting up a tiebreaker for the division title Monday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
Roberts had no inkling that a change was in order. He said the Dodgers “might’ve handled things a little differently” if they knew Scherzer wasn’t pitching.
“I think that they made a decision and we still have to go out there and win ourselves,” Roberts said before the Dodgers’ win Sunday. “Who they decide to pitch, that’s not up to us.”
Scherzer had said he would start if the game carried playoff implications, but Nationals manager Dave Martinez announced Sunday that Scherzer, who has thrown more pitches than anyone in the majors this season, was scratched because the Rockies and Dodgers had already clinched postseason berths.
Starting Scherzer, of course, would not have ensured anything. Scherzer has a 5.88 ERA in five starts at Coors Field. The last time he pitched there, in 2016, he gave up four runs in four innings. Fedde had never pitched at Coors Field. He gave up four runs in four innings in a 12-0 defeat.
The Dodgers know their chances would’ve been higher with Scherzer on the mound in Denver, but it was out of their control.
“Honestly, I just don’t want to put too much thought into what they did or didn’t do,” Roberts said. “Ideally, obviously, everyone knows that that would give them a better chance to win. We understand that. But, again, their decision. You have to respect it. You don’t have to like it or agree with it, but you have to respect it.”