By Ben Reiter
October 01, 2017

This was going to be Bryce Harper, who returned from a month and a half on the disabled list with a hyperextended knee on Sept. 26 and produced just one hit in his first four games back. Then, in the fourth inning on Saturday, Scherzer—who will presumably win his second straight NL Cy Young award—gingerly walked off the mound in what was supposed to be a final postseason tune-up. If any club can weather the loss of its ace on the eve of October, it’s the Nationals, as Stephen Strasburg (2.52) and Gio Gonzalez (2.75) joined Scherzer (2.51) among the NL’s top four ERA leaders—and anyway, the Nats claimed Scherzer suffered no more than a hamstring cramp. Still, suddenly the player who was supposed to be their most reliable, isn’t.

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