HOUSTON — If the Washington Nationals win Game 6 of the World Series Tuesday night, they can hand the ball to a three-time Cy Young winner for the winner-take-all Game 7.
Manager Dave Martinez said that “as of right now,” the Nationals plan to start Max Scherzer in a hypothetical Game 7 Wednesday after neck spasms prevented him from his scheduled start in Game 5.
Scherzer experienced neck spasms for a few days, received treatment and woke up Sunday morning worse than expected. “I can’t pick up my arm right now,” the 35-year-old said at the time. “So I can’t pitch.”
But on Tuesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, Scherzer threw pitches off flat ground in the outfield. The Associated Press and others reported that in the clubhouse later on, without prompting, he said, “I’m good.”
“He threw, he felt good,” Martinez said. “We’ll see what transpires between now and tonight. But he says he feels good.”
Martinez does not plan to cap Scherzer’s pitch count if he starts.
“If Max tells me tonight that he’s good, then Max will pitch until his neck decides he can’t pitch anymore,” he said. “I can’t see myself telling Max, ‘Hey, you’re only going to go 75 pitches.’ He’s going to want to go out there and go as long as he can.”
The manager said Scherzer flew to Houston with the team — “We sat him up in first class so he had a lot of room” — and woke up Tuesday feeling ready to throw.
Scherzer received a cortisone shot on Sunday, which doctors told him would take about 48 hours to set in and alleviate the pain in his muscles and around the nerve.
Scherzer might also have his usual batterymate back, too. Catcher Kurt Suzuki is available Tuesday for the first time since Game 3, when he hurt his hip flexor while blocking a pitch. Yan Gomes will start, but Suzuki can pinch-hit or even catch if the Nationals need him.
The plan, then, is for Suzuki to catch Scherzer in Game 7 — if Washington gets there.
Stephen Strasburg will start Game 6, with Aníbal Sánchez and Patrick Corbin both available out of the bullpen.
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