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In reversal, Nationals RHP Strasburg gets start Game 4 start

CHICAGO -- The Washington Nationals will now start right-hander Stephen Strasburg in Wednesday afternoon's Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Tuesday night that Strasburg was too ill to start Wednesday's game before the dramatic reversal by the team.

The Nationals made the move official a few hours before 3:08 p.m. CT starting time.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Wednesday that Strasburg started to feel flu-like symptoms after starting Game 1, which continued the next couple of days. Rizzo said Strasburg experienced fever, chills and continued to feel poorly when he threw his bullpen session on Monday.

Strasburg was put on an antibiotic regimen, anti-inflammatories and a fluid IV.

After Tuesday's game was postponed, Strasburg spoke with Rizzo and said he would give the Nationals everything he had, but he wasn't sure how much that would be.

"We felt at that time, it wasn't enough," Rizzo said.

The Nationals were prepared to stick with Tanner Roark and announced him as Wednesday's starter. But after arriving at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, Strasburg said his condition was much-improved.

"This morning, he felt much more like Stephen Strasburg," Rizzo said.

Strasburg went into Baker's office and told the manager he wanted to pitch.

"The fact he was much more like the real Stephen Strasburg, we felt that that Stephen Strasburg gave us a much better chance to win the game," Rizzo said.

Rizzo also said media report on Tuesday night were inaccurate that Strasburg went to the Nationals and said he didn't want to pitch. Rizzo said Strasburg felt no pressure based on media reports to start Wednesday's game.

"I don't think Stephen Strasburg cares what the media thinks about him or says about him," Rizzo said. "He wanted the ball because he wants to win this game. He thinks he's our best option."

Baker echoed that sentiment.

"We didn't put that pressure on him and I don't think he would succumb to pressure from pressure the public or from the media or anybody. He's a grown man. He made that decision on his own," Baker said. "He wanted to pitch and he was very adamant he wanted to pitch. He wasn't pressured at all that I know of."

Game 4 at Wrigley Field was postponed by rain Tuesday night, giving the Nationals a chance to start Strasburg on regular rest being down 2-1 in the best-of-five series.

However, Baker made a surprise announcement when he said Roark would still start because Strasburg was "under the weather."

Baker changed his tune on Wednesday, however.

"We'll treat it like a normal start until we see signs of fatigue," Baker said.

The Cubs will turn to their scheduled Game 4 starter, Jake Arrieta, on Wednesday looking to finish off the series.

Strasburg held the Cubs without a hit for 5 2/3 innings in Game 1 before Chicago pulled out a 3-0 victory. He threw seven innings, allowing two unearned runs while striking out 10 batters.

With Strasburg now starting, Cubs manager Joe Maddon changed his lineup card, taking out outfielder Kyle Schwarber and inserting outfielder Jason Heyward.

"This time of the year, you try to control the controllables," Maddon said prior to Wednesday's game. "That is not something under your control, who they want to pitch, of course not. You can't let stuff like that bother you ever. There was an inkling that that might occur even last night as we left the ballpark. We just didn't know for sure, but you plan on work. (It) doesn't matter who Washington pitches. They are all good. They have a great staff.

"Whoever you are going to face today, the last several days, you knew it was going to be tough games, and they were. And we have to pitch well in order to beat them. All that stuff, doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. I don't worry about stuff like that. Our players don't."

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