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October 11, 2017

Mike Rizzo

Chicago, Illinois - pregame 4

Q. Would you just walk us through the last 12 hours and how it came to be that Strasburg starts today?
MIKE RIZZO: Certainly. So after his start on Friday, a couple days afterwards, he started feeling flu-like symptoms and that continued for the next couple of days: Fever, chills, acute sinusitis. And when he threw his bullpen Monday, he was feeling really bad. He had no endurance. He was really weak and it was -- just wasn't feeling great.

You know, he battled through it. We aggressively -- he saw our doctors and they aggressively put him on an antibiotic regimen, anti-inflammatories, and fluid IVs. He's taken several IVs the last couple of days, last night, and again today.

At the time of the rainout Tuesday when we were going to announce our starter for the rain game, we went to Stras and he said, he told me he wanted to take the ball. He said, I'll give you everything I've got, but he doesn't know how much he has.

We felt at that time it wasn't enough when we have a guy like Tanner Roark there that's able to start. Tanner was prepared. It was his day to start, and we felt very, very comfortable giving him the ball in Game 4.

Then as of today, we switched Stras's antibiotics, gave him a higher dose, IV fluids throughout the evening, and this morning he felt much more like Stephen Strasburg. So he came into the clubhouse and went to the manager's office and said that, "I want to start this game."

The fact that he was much more like the real Stephen Strasburg, we felt that that Stephen Strasburg gave us a much better chance to win Game 4. And that's it.

Q. Can you just take us through how, when you do have to make those kind of decisions, both yesterday and today, how many people are involved, and is there a final say, somebody has the final call?
MIKE RIZZO: Well, the final call on Stras for pitching is the pitcher, is the player. So yeah, all the decisions we make are team decisions or group decisions. This particular decision was made with the pitching coach, the manager, myself, and the players.

Q. You were on the radio this morning pretty emphatically saying that Tanner would start. What is the exact timing of when you said that and when you saw Stephen, and just the hour by hour?
MIKE RIZZO: Yeah, that was early this morning, 8:00 am Central time, and Mike Maddux, our pitching coach had gotten a call from Stephen prior to that that I was not aware of; said he felt better. Said they would discuss it when they got to the ballpark, and when they got to the ballpark, Stephen looked closer to the Stephen Strasburg that we know, and we made the decision that he was our best option for Game four.

Q. There was a report yesterday that Stephen was the one that said he did not want to pitch. Is that accurate? And beyond that, do you worry about any feeling that Stephen feels he has to pitch today because he has pressure from his teammates?
MIKE RIZZO: The statement was inaccurate, which many, many statements that have been about this subject have been inaccurate. If you're alluding to the fact that -- did the media pressure him into starting this; I don't think Stephen Strasburg cares about what the media thinks about him or says about him. He wanted the ball in this game because he wants to win this game and he thinks he's our best option. And he's an ultra-competitor and he feels this gives us a chance to win.

Q. The question was not did the media pressure. The question was did his teammates pressure that you're aware of.
MIKE RIZZO: No, he felt obligated -- when he felt as good as he feels today, he felt much more like himself. He felt that he should pitch this game.

Q. When you guys said Tanner Roark was going to start, were you pretty sure Stephen wasn't going to start? Was it at that point felt it wasn't a possibility at all?
MIKE RIZZO: Well, first of all, a lot had to do with Tanner Roark. This guy is a guy I have great confidence in. You know, he's won 15, 16 games the last couple years, 13 games this year. This guy is a very good Major League starter. We felt that Tanner was a better option than going with a depleted Stephen Strasburg.

But once we saw that Stephen was more like himself, we felt like this was a better option.

Q. Maybe I missed something. Was Stephen here all day yesterday or was he away from the team, and --
MIKE RIZZO: Yes, he was in the clubhouse with the medical staff.

Q. Is there a reason that you kept him here if you knew he wasn't going to pitch yesterday and might be needed today?
MIKE RIZZO: Yes, he was getting treatment, IV fluids.

Q. Obviously Dusty will let us know, but what's the plan for Tanner Roark at this point? Does he come in if Stephen has to come out early? Do you have that set up?
MIKE RIZZO: All hands on deck. This is an elimination game. Everyone is going to be involved. We're going to do everything we can to win this game, and we'll worry about Game 5 after we win this one.

Q. Speaking of the bullpen, the Nats had control of the East for most of the season. Can you talk about your thought process when you went ahead and rebuilt the bullpen in July and how much of that was looking towards the Postseason?
MIKE RIZZO: Well, you know, we went into Spring Training knowing that we had -- the nucleus of a very good club that could contend for the National League East Championship. That's often my goal in the off-season is to put a competent 90-ish win team on the field in the off-season, always in mind at the trade deadline there's a possibility, and often a probability, of making a move to improve ourselves moving forward. That was our plan, and I thought we achieved it well this year.

Q. You talk about all hands on deck. What is your sense of Scherzer's availability today and then potentially tomorrow?
MIKE RIZZO: Well, you know Scherzer. Mad Max, I would imagine he's available.

Q. Do you feel like the team caught a break in getting the rainout so that you get two top starters and a fresh bullpen today?
MIKE RIZZO: I think things happen for a reason. Their bullpen's fresh and their starters are fresh. Hey, this is a heck of a series. These are two really good teams that are closely matched. The margin for error is minute. You can see how closely played these games are, and you know, these are games that often come down to the smallest detail.

You know, I think it freshened up both bullpens. It gave us a chance to start Stras, if that's an advantage, and if you think that's an advantage for us, then yes, we caught a break.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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