Saturday afternoon, Stephen Strasburg stood in left field at Busch Stadium, winding up on flat ground and throwing to a crouching teammate about 80 feet away. Under different circumstances, if the Nationals had reached a different conclusion on how best to bring him back from Tommy John surgery, Strasburg might have been preparing for a Game 1 start Sunday.

But the Nationals of course decided to shut Strasburg down for the season, playoffs and all, and so Strasburg had come only to soak up the atmosphere and continue his throwing program with the team. He is not on the roster, but remains a part of their team.

"It's great to have him here and he deserves to be a part of it just as much as we do," said Gio Gonzalez, the man Game 1 pitching in Strasburg's place. "We would love to have him in our rotation. We would love to have him play now, but I think that we are both going to experience this together and we are both going to have some great times."