5:54 pm: At a pregame media session, Scherzer told reporters (including Mark Zuckerman of MASN) that he is also dealing with nerve irritation in his neck. The ace added that he underwent a cortisone shot that will take approximately 48 hours to kick in, seemingly putting to rest any hope he could return in Tuesday’s Game 6. He remains on the Nationals’ World Series roster, but those in attendance at this evening’s media session (including Todd Dybas of NBC Sports) seemed less than optimistic about his chances of returning by Wednesday’s potential Game 7.
3:36 pm: Nationals starter Max Scherzer, who was slated to start Sunday’s World Series game five, has been scratched from his start, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. In his place, Joe Ross will take the mound for the Nationals. Per Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, Scherzer has been dealing with spasms in his neck and right trapezius.
Manager Dave Martinez told reporters that Scherzer began experiencing spasms last night, and woke up this morning in worse condition, rendering him unable to go tonight. Martinez also said that the Nationals will keep Scherzer on the roster in hopes that he shows enough improvement in the next couple of days to pitch in either game six or seven (if necessary). As of now, the Nats plan to start Stephen Strasburg in game six on Tuesday, with the possibility that Scherzer could be available in relief, or as the starter for a potential seventh game.
Martinez noted that Scherzer’s injury influenced his bullpen management in last night’s loss: he refrained from using Joe Ross, bracing for the possibility that Scherzer may not be able to start Sunday’s game. It’s also notable that neither Sean Doolittle nor Daniel Hudson, the Nats’ two most reliable relievers, has pitched since game one last Tuesday, meaning that Martinez might be able to stretch them out if he can’t get sufficient length from Ross.
Scherzer’s injury is a crucial development in a virtual must-win fifth game. With Gerrit Cole on the hill for the Astros, it was already going to be a tough game, but without their ace on the mound, the Nationals will have to count on Joe Ross, who found his stride in August and September. The freshness of the bullpen will help the Nats’ cause, with the possibility that both Doolittle and Hudson could be asked to get six outs each.