Washington Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer will not start Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night in Washington because of back and neck spasms, leaving right-hander Joe Ross to start in his place, manager Dave Martinez said.
Scherzer was a late scratch less than four hours before the first pitch. The timing of the injury is particularly difficult for the Nationals, who are tied 2-2 in the series after dropping back-to-back games at home to the Houston Astros.
Martinez said Scherzer woke up with spasms on Saturday and then "locked up" on Sunday.
"He had -- yesterday he had a little bit of spasms in his right trap and neck," Martinez said in his press conference prior to Game 5. "They treated it. He woke up today a lot worse.
"And if you all know Max, obviously he pitched with a broken nose, he's been hurt before, he's gotten through things. When he comes in and says he's hurt this bad, he's hurt. And I can tell you now he's very upset. He wants to be out there with his teammates. But hopefully we can get him back here for either Game 6 or 7."
Scherzer said he was crushed that he had to scratch from such an important start.
"I'm as disappointed as I can possibly be that I can't pitch tonight, I mean, it's Game 5 of the World Series," Scherzer said. "I've pitched through so much crap in my career ... this is literally impossible to do anything with."
Asked whether there was any chance he could pitch, Scherzer answered, "I can't pick up my arm right now."
The 35-year-old did undergo a cortisone shot in hopes he can pitch later in the series.
"Doctors told me it would take 48 hours to kick in," Scherzer said of the injection. "I woke up this morning and I was completely locked up. I couldn't even dress myself. I had to have my wife help me."
The 26-year-old Ross has made one appearance this postseason. He pitched two innings of scoreless relief and gave up one hit in Game 3 of the World Series.
Before that appearance, Ross last pitched Sept. 29, allowing one run on four hits in six innings in a start against the Cleveland Indians. He went 4-4 with a 5.48 ERA in 27 games (nine starts) during the regular season.
Scherzer said he has confidence in Ross, who will be making the biggest start of his career.
"I still have faith in everybody in this clubhouse," Scherzer said. "Watching Joe Ross pitch the other night, he looked extremely polished in what he was able to do."
Scherzer is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA (six earned runs in 25 innings) during this postseason. He picked up the victory in Game 1 of the World Series when he gave up two runs and five hits over five innings.
--Field Level Media