- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2017

The Washington Nationals’ Game 1 lineup looks a lot like the close of the regular season.

Bryce Harper is hitting second, sitting between leadoff hitter Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon, who is hitting third. Nationals manager Dusty Baker suggested the spot may lead to more fastballs for Harper, who is still in search of pristine timing since his return from the 10-day disabled list Sept. 26. A hyperextended and bruised left knee, and a calf strain, forced him to miss six weeks late in the season.

“We know that Bryce isn’t back 100 percent timing-wise,” Baker said. “So you want to not have him in those key RBI situations right now. By next week or end of this five-game series, we might do something different.”

Also, Baker finally said publicly that Gio Gonzalez will pitch Game 2 and Max Scherzer will pitch Game 3. It was one of the better-known secrets on the planet since Wednesday, but the Nationals decided to not comment until they last second. Gonzalez initially was preparing to pitch in Chicago before Scherzer’s right hamstring “tweak”  Sept. 30 caused the Nationals to shuffle their rotation. Not pitching until Game 3 will give Scherzer eight days between starts.

The Cubs will throw Kyle Hendricks in Game 1. He’s viewed as a crafty nibbler who is able to makes pitches just off the plate look enticing. Friday night, Cory Blaser, who has worked just one wild-card game and one division series in the past, is behind the plate.

The lineups:

Cubs

Ben Zobrist RF

Kris Bryant 3B

Anthony Rizzo 1B

Wilson Contreras C

Kyle Schwarber LF

Addison Russell SS

Jason Heyward CF

Javy Baez 2B

Kyle Hendricks SP

Nationals

Trea Turner SS

Bryce Harper RF

Anthony Rendon 3B

Daniel Murphy 2B

Ryan Zimmerman 1B

Jayson Werth LF

Matt Wieters C

Michael A. Taylor CF

Stephen Strasburg P

 

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