Stephen Stasburg likely to start Game 1 of NLDS for Nationals against Cubs

General manager Mike Rizzo's stated comfort with Stephen Strasburg increased the likelihood the Nationals have all but ruled out ace Max Scherzer for Friday night's Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Cubs.

"We haven't confirmed (Strasburg starting Game 1) that yet," Rizzo said Wednesday as Scherzer played catch in the outfield as he copes with a tweak in his right hamstring. "(Strasburg) is certainly a capable No. 1 starter in the playoffs. We feel good about running him out there if he were the guy. Who better? We have two aces and one of them will pitch Game 1."

As for Scherzer, who was 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA in the regular season, "He's going to pitch in this series, and we want to get him close to 100 percent as we can get him," said Rizzo, adding that "the reason for holding him back would be the concern on the hamstring."

Strasburg was 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA.

High on Hendricks: Nationals sluggers Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman spoke of the respect they have for Cubs Game 1 starter Kyle Hendricks.

"He's one of those guys you have to stay in your zone and find a pitch in your zone," Murphy said. "If you don't, he does such a good job of throwing marginal balls and marginal strikes that look good. And if you swing at those, you're going to be out. And you saw the success he had last year and this year."

Said Zimmerman: "He forces you to have a plan and stick with it. All those guys are good at what they do. The battle is to make him do what you want him to do, but they don't give in."

What pressure? Outfielder Jayson Werth tempered the declaration by the Cubs' Ben Zobrist that the pressure is on the Nationals in this best-of-five series.

"The hard part is getting here and being one of the teams that gets to the dance," Werth said. "We did that. In my mind, all the pressure is off. This is all gravy on top.

"When I signed here (in 2011), my goal was to win a World Series. I still have that opportunity, and I'm definitely grateful for that."

Extra innings: Rizzo hasn't ruled out adding outfielder Brian Goodwin to the postseason roster if Goodwin has fully recovered from a groin injury that has sidelined him since Aug. 14.

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