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Stephen Strasburg ruled out for NLCS, throws bullpen session

Stephen Strasburg ruled out for NLCS, throws bullpen session

All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg will not be ready for the NL Championship Series, if the Nationals are to advance that far, manager Dusty Baker announced on Thursday ahead of Game 5 of the NLDS.

The Nationals previously expressed hope he would be ready. But that was before he hit a roadblock in his recovery.

"[The rehab] is never as fast as you would like. But he won't be available for the next series. It would be a miracle if he did," Baker said.

"You look at the calendar and just the math doesn't work out. He's not stretched out and prepared to take on such an important game," General manager Mike Rizzo said.

Baker and Rizzo confirmed what was suspected by most following Strasburg's recent setback. While throwing a bullpen session to test his right flexor mass strain earlier in the week, Strasburg felt discomfort in his elbow. He was slated to throw 35 pitches, but was stopped at around 30 because of the pain.

Strasburg threw a bullpen session at Nationals Park moments after Baker broke the news. He worked under the watchful eye of pitching coach Mike Maddux.

That is certainly good news. It could mean he will be available if the Nats make it all the way to the World Series. At the very least, it confirms that his setback was not a major one.

Rizzo expressed hope he can still line up for a potential return.

"Nothing's changed. He's still on his return-to-throw program," Rizzo said. "We're trying to build him up to see where he's at. We're certainly not going to rush him into doing something that he's incapable of doing. He is on his return-to-throw program and he's following the protocol that our doctors and trainers gave him."

Strasburg, 28, has been sidelined since Sept. 7 when he suffered the injury during a start against the Atlanta Braves. He underwent an MRI the following day, which determined his flexor strain.

The test confirmed his UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) was intact. Strasburg had the ligament repaired in 2010 when he underwent Tommy Surgery.

[RELATED: Former Nats pitcher Livan Hernandez to throw out Game 5 1st pitch]

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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."

MORE NATIONALS: Stephen Strasburg returns to the mound

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Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

SAN DIEGO -- Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run home run off Stephen Strasburg in the first inning of the right-hander's first start in almost a month and the San Diego Padres beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 Saturday night.

Strasburg (10-4) retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a single to Jose Pirela and then the homer to the switch-hitting Solarte, who drove a 96-mph fastball to right for his 13th.

Strasburg then settled down against his hometown team, retiring 10 straight batters and 13 of 14. He went six innings, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out eight and walking one.

He hadn't pitched since July 23, when he went only two innings at Arizona. He went on the disabled list with an elbow nerve impingement.

Strasburg pitched at West Hills High in suburban Santee and then at San Diego State for coach Tony Gwynn before going to the Nationals with the No. 1 pick overall in the 2009 draft.

While Strasburg pitched well, the Nationals had only three hits.

San Diego's Travis Wood (2-1) also settled down after laboring through the first inning, when he threw 35 pitches but didn't allow a run. He was unscathed until the fifth, when he allowed a one-out single to Jose Lobaton and a two-out double to Adrian Sanchez. The run was unearned because of Woods' throwing error on Strasburg's sacrifice bunt that advanced Lobaton.

Wood allowed just the unearned run on three hits in seven innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.

Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his 11th save.