Max Scherzer was scratched from starting tonight’s Game 6. For Nationals fans, this is oh so familiar. Can history repeat itself?
In a sport littered with elite starting pitchers, there are only a few players a team would rather have on the mound for besides Max Scherzer. Only 37, the Future Hall of Famer has shown no signs of slowing down and has been the Dodgers lifeline all October. With injuries piling up and entering an elimination game, the Dodgers could at least take solace that Scherzer was going to be on the mound.
Sadly, that is no longer the case. It was reported last night that the Dodgers ace was scratched from Game 6 due to arm fatigue.
Scherzer left his last start early because he said his arm felt dead and understandably so. Counting the Wild Card game, Scherzer made four appearances in 12 days, something that his body isn’t accustomed to.
With an already taxed bullpen and no Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers will need to come up with a plan B and fast if they are to force a Game 7 and get Scherzer back on the mound. While unfortunate, this situation is reminiscent of the Nationals 2019 World Series run.
The series was tied 2-2 and Max Scherzer was slated to start Game 5 in D.C. Despite dropping two straight, morale was sky high due to the presence of the team’s ace. At the time, he was 3-0 that postseason and the Nationals had won all five games he had made an appearance. A win felt inevitable, but that feeling was quickly squashed.
The morning of Game 5, Scherzer woke up with immense neck pain and couldn’t even lift his arm up to put his shirt on. Unable to dress himself, he had to lean on his wife to help him out. It was quickly reported that Scherzer was scratched from Game 5 and Joe Ross was replacing him. This was Ross’s second appearance in the playoffs, after coming out of the bullpen in Game 3, where he threw two shutout innings. He only threw 64 innings in the regular season, having had just returned after missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery.
Ross entered Game 5 to vocal support from the fanbase, but Houston’s offense was too potent. He allowed four runs across five innings while striking out one. It was obvious the righty was still trying to find himself and Houston took advantage. The series shifted to Houston and in Game 6 Stephen Strasburg put the team on his back, allowing only two runs across 8 1/3 innings. This set up for Max Scherzer to return for the winner take all Game 7.
Still in pain, Scherzer took a cortisone shot and was good to go. From the start, it was obvious he didn’t have his A stuff, but Mad Max put one of the most impressive performances of his career. His pitches lacked their sharpness and Houston was tending to lay off anything out of the zone, quickly working up his pitch count. He only lasted five innings, allowing two runs while striking out three.
However, he was able to pitch himself out of multiple jams and limited the damage the best he could. In the end, he put the Nationals in a terrific position to come from behind, and that they did. Unlike the Nats when Ross pitched in Game 5, the Dodgers are facing an elimination game without their ace. But if any team can survive this, it’s them due to their immense depth. Here’s hoping Scherzer retakes the mound for Game 7.