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Severino will start NLDS Game 1, Difo makes playoff roster

Severino will start NLDS Game 1, Difo makes playoff roster

Though the Nationals have until 10 a.m. on Friday morning to announce their NLDS roster, we’re learning more about what it will look like by the day. 

Dusty Baker revealed after Thursday's workout that Game 1 starter Max Scherzer will be paired with 23-year-old catcher Pedro Severino. The rookie backstop, on the roster after All-Star Wilson Ramos was lost for the year with an ACL tear, has only has appeared in 18 regular season games in his career.

"He's pretty good against left-handed pitchers," Baker added. "I don't think he's seen one quite like this in Kershaw before. He's worked with our guys and you know, [Jose] Lobaton is a little bit injured and that's one reason why he's not catching tomorrow."

"In most scenarios, having a rookie catcher behind the plate, you probably have pause for concern," Scherzer added. "But Severino is completely different. First off, he's way more mature and understands the game way further than any rookie catcher I've been around. He gets it."

The other development from Thursday's press conference was Baker's announcement that infielder Wilmer Difo would make the roster. It's a bit of a surprise move, but the speedy 24-year-old could give the Nats a late-game pinch running option. 

"Number one, he's a switch-hitter," Baker said. "You know, he has speed. He's very good from the right side and also he can play all three infield positions, and with Daniel Murphy still coming off an injury, he gives us a possibility at second base late in the game and run for Daniel Murphy, as well."

Difo’s addition on the bench means there could be only one reserve spot left to determine. If that’s the case, that means Baker must choose between first baseman Clint Robinson and outfielders Ben Revere, Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin.

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Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time

Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time

HOUSTON -- Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer, Howie Kendrick had a two-run triple and the Washington Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time, 4-3 Tuesday night in a matchup of division leaders.

Washington's winning streak over the Astros dates to 2012. The Nationals have won 13 of 14 against Houston since 2011.

Kendrick's triple tied it in the third before the Astros went back on top with an RBI single by Josh Reddick in the bottom half. Anthony Rendon doubled with two outs in the fourth before the homer by Wieters, which landed just to the right of straightaway center field, gave the NL East leaders a 4-3 lead.

Tanner Roark (10-8) allowed six hits and two earned runs in 5 2-3 innings and Sean Doolittle pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.

Charlie Morton (10-6) gave up four runs in six innings for the AL West-leading Astros.

The Astros threatened in the eighth against Brandon Kintzler when Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles and the Nationals intentionally walked Carlos Beltran with one out to load the bases. But Max Stassi grounded into a double play to leave Houston trailing.

George Springer led off the Houston first with a single, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Reddick.

Beltran doubled off the wall in left-center field in the second and scored on a single by Derek Fisher.

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Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

When Max Scherzer was a teenager, he didn't know that one day he'd actually become a two-time Cy Young Award winner. He had no guarantee he'd make it to the majors, much less play in five consecutive MLB All-Star games. 

All he knew was that he had the option to go pro as a kid or go to college, and back then, the Nationals' ace needed a contingency plan in case baseball didn't work out. Fortunately for Scherzer, it did, but he doesn't regret going to college at the University of Missouri, telling Santana Moss on CSN's "Route 89" going to school was a no-brainer.

"It was actually a really easy decision," Scherzer told Moss. "When you get drafted out of high school, you're going to be going into the minor leagues, and that can take three to five or six years — multiple years — in the minor leagues, and you're forfeiting your right to further your education."

Scherzer was drafted in the 43rd round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003, but he opted to play for Mizzou for three years, which turned out to be a great decision. The Arizona Diamondbacks then drafted him in 2006 in the first round as the 11th overall pick. 

"A lot of times when you sign out of high school, you don't make it to the major leagues," Scherzer continued. "So I realize that your education — that's your safety net.

"You need to further your education in college, and if you do get drafted out of college, you're in a much better position to try to chase your dreams because if it doesn't work out, you still have one year left of school and that's much easier to obtain rather than try to go through four years when you're not coming out of high school."

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