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LEADING OFF: Closer to starter, Scherzer lined up for Game 1

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer celebrates after the Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of a baseball National League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer celebrates after the Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of a baseball National League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

A look at what's happening around the majors on Saturday:

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MAX EFFORT

Dodgers ace Max Scherzer got the last three outs in the thrilling Game 5 of the NL Divsion Series and is now lined up to throw the first pitch for Los Angeles in the NL Championship Series.

Yes, with only full day off in between.

“That is Scherzer being Scherzer,” teammate Cody Bellinger said.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he aims to start Scherzer at Atlanta even after the three-time Cy Young Award winner earned his first pro save in a 2-1 victory at San Francisco on Thursday night.

“He’s going to go out and play catch and get treatment and if says he’s good to go he’ll be our Game 1 starter,” Roberts said.

Roberts said his backup plan would be a bullpen game, with Tony Gonsolin one of the pitchers used.

Scherzer was 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA for Washington and Los Angeles during the regular season. He’s pitched 12 1/3 innings over three appearances in the playoffs, allowing two runs and six hits with 16 strikeouts.

Max Fried (14-7, 3.04 ERA) moved up as Atlanta’s Game 1 starter after Charlie Morton pitched on short rest in the Braves’ 5-4 clinching win over Milwaukee in the NL Division Series.

HOME ON THE ROAD

Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi will have a homecoming of sorts when he starts Game 2 of the AL Championship Series against the host Astros.

Eovaldi grew up in the Houston suburb of Alvin, also home to Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, and visited the Astrodome and Minute Maid Park often growing up.

“It’s definitely one of my favorite ballparks to pitch in,” Eovaldi said.

Eovaldi loved the Killer B’s of Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman as a kid and enjoyed seeing Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte pitch for the Astros when he was in high school.

“Just getting to watch those guys do what they do, and even though it was toward the end of their careers, it was just awesome to get to watch them go out there and perform,” he said.

Rookie Luis Garcia starts for the Astros.

MISSING MCCULLERS

Astros ace Lance McCullers Jr. is off the roster for the AL Championship Series against Boston because of a strained muscle in his right arm.

“He’s not able to throw the ball right now,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said.

Baker said there’s no structural damage, but the team isn’t sure if McCullers would be available for the World Series if the Astros advance.

McCullers took a shutout into the seventh inning of the AL Division Series opener against the White Sox. But the right-hander left Game 4 after four innings because of what the team called forearm tightness.

Pitcher Jake Odorizzi, left off the ALDS after a disappointing first season in Houston, was added to McCullers’ place.

NEW CUB

Coming off their worst season since 2013 and having traded away many of their biggest stars, the Cubs have hired Carter Hawkins as their new general manager.

The 37-year-old Hawkins spent 14 seasons with Cleveland, including the last five as an assistant general manager. He also supervised the team’s player development department -- while Chicago has struggled when it comes to turning its pitching prospects into successful major leaguers, Cleveland has flourished.

Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer had been looking for a GM since he was promoted to the top spot almost a year ago, replacing Theo Epstein. Hoyer put off the search after it was hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cubs went 71-91 this year and traded Javier Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in July.

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