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Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia  Attendance: 42,993

Nationals' Scherzer stoked for wild-card start vs. Brewers

According to STATS
According to STATS

Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals

  1. This is the first appearance for both the Brewers and the Nationals in the National League Wild Card Game. Since 2012, NL road teams have gone 5-2 in this game, winning four of the last five. MLB teams are 11-3 when scoring first in wild card games since 2012 and NL teams are 6-1, with the NL team that scored first winning each of the last six after the 2012 Braves lost despite drawing first blood.
  2. The Brewers were swept by the Rockies at Coors Field in their final series of the regular season but went an MLB-best 18-5 from September 6 on. Milwaukee's hitters drew a league-leading 100 walks in that span while its pitching staff had a 2.90 ERA, second best behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers (2.85).
  3. The Nationals opened the season 19-31, tied with the Tigers for the third-worst record through 50 games in 2019. Washington is the third team all-time to make the postseason after sitting 12+ games under .500 through 50 (2005 Astros, 1974 Pirates, both 14 under). The Nats followed up their start with a 74-38 finish, trailing only the Astros (74-37) for the best record in MLB over that span (since May 24).
  4. The Brewers will be without Christian Yelich, who fractured his kneecap on September 10. Yelich ended the season with a 1.100 OPS, his second straight season with a 1.000+ OPS -- he, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera are the only active players with consecutive qualifying 1.000+ OPS seasons.
  5. Ryan Braun's .849 OPS in 2019 was his highest since posting a .903 mark in 2016. Braun had a .912 OPS and knocked in 18 runners in 20 September games. He missed his team's final two regular season games, both losses, but is expected to play tonight -- the Brewers are 5-1 in his last 6 games, with Braun slashing .563/.632/1.125 in this span.
  6. Anthony Rendon led MLB in RBI with 126, becoming the first player in franchise history to do so. Gary Carter (1984 Expos) was the last Expo/National to lead the NL in RBI (106, tied w/ Mike Schmidt, Phi). Rendon became the second player in franchise history with 30+ home runs and 125+ RBI in a single season, joining Vladimir Guerrero, who hit 42 home runs and knocked in 131 runs for the 1999 Expos.
  7. Trea Turner finished 2019 with at least one hit in 12 straight games, the longest active streak at season's end. From September 17 on (when his streak started), Turner led MLB with 11 extra-base hits, ranked second with 13 runs (Edman, StL -- 14) and ranked tied for third with five home runs.
  8. The Brewers went 18-4 in Brandon Woodruff's starts this season, the best team record in any pitcher's starts (minimum 20 starts). Max Scherzer, on the other hand, has seen his team suffer a loss in six consecutive postseason games -- in MLB history, only David Price (10 straight) and Randy Johnson (seven) have longer team losing streaks associated with their postseason starts.
  9. Woodruff threw 4.0 shutout innings after returning from the Injured List on September 17, allowing just one baserunner via a walk while striking out seven batters. Woodruff posted a 3.06 ERA in 13 home starts this season but had a 4.41 ERA in nine starts on the road.
  10. Max Scherzer has a 1.80 ERA in eight career starts versus the Brewers and struck out 10 batters in 6.0 innings when he faced Milwaukee on May 6. Despite throwing fewer than 200.0 innings for the first time since 2012, Scherzer reached 243 strikeouts this season -- it was his eighth consecutive season with at least 200, one shy of Tom Seaver's all-time record of nine straight seasons (1968-1976).
Notes Applicable For Series Dates: 10/1/2019 thru 10/1/2019
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Washington Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer craves high-pressure moments.

So when Nationals manager Davey Martinez informed Scherzer that he would start Tuesday's all-or-nothing National League wild-card game against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, Scherzer's reaction was predictably intense.

"I can't exactly say what he said to me," Martinez joked. "But he was excited. He's ready."

After a grueling 162-game schedule and a tight wild-card playoff race, it comes down to one game to determine the postseason future for Washington (93-69) and Milwaukee (89-73). The winner will advance to the National League Division Series to face the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the loser will go home to dwell on an abrupt ending to a once-promising season.

Neither side is prepared to back down with so much on the line.

"We're going into a hostile environment, playing against a hot team with one of the best pitchers in the league," Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun told reporters. "Certainly, it will be a challenge, but we've had our backs against the wall all month. We've been counted out many times. We kind of like being in that position."

Milwaukee ended the season with 18 wins in 23 games but fell just short capturing the NL Central division title after losing three straight games to the Colorado Rockies. Braun missed the final series because of a calf injury but is expected to play Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Nationals topped 90 victories for the third time in four years but finished four games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Washington closed the regular season with an eight-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 54-24 during that span.

The teams met six times during the regular season, with the Brewers going 4-2 and outscoring the Nationals 42-38.

Scherzer (11-7, 2.92 ERA) will take the mound on six days' rest for Washington. He had 243 strikeouts in 172 1/3 innings in the regular season. The 35-year-old is 4-5 with a 3.73 ERA in 16 career playoff games (13 starts).

"Season's on the line, I've pitched in these situations before, and it's just crazy baseball," Scherzer said. "Intensity's out of your mind. And you've got to go out there and be your best and just compete as hard as you can."

In nine career games (eight starts) against Milwaukee, Scherzer is 2-2 with a 2.29 ERA. He allowed two runs (one earned) in six innings during his lone appearance against the Brewers this season on May 6.

Martinez said fellow starters Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin would be available to pitch out of the bullpen if necessary.

The Brewers will turn to right-hander Brandon Woodruff (11-3, 3.62), who strung together four scoreless innings in two appearances in September after missing almost two months because of a left oblique injury. He is 2-0 with an 0.96 ERA in four career games (two starts) against the Nationals. In four playoff appearances (one start), he is 1-1 with a 1.46 ERA.

Woodruff is not fully stretched out and knows that he likely will give way to the Brewers' bullpen for the bulk of the game.

"It's that time of year where you just get out there and get after it," Woodruff told reporters. "It's going to be a team effort. Obviously, I probably won't be able to go six, seven innings, but I'll be ready to go as long as I can until they take me out."

--Field Level Media

Updated September 30, 2019

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