HOUSTON -- Only three days after a neck issue forced Max Scherzer to skip his start in Game 5 of the World Series, the Nationals ace will take the mound in the winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday night (GameTracker). .
"That's what you live for," Scherzer said Tuesday. "For me, I need to get in my pregame routine right now, and that's where I'm at mentally. Here we go."
Scherzer described the injury as a "little thing that turned into a big thing that turned into a giant thing" after being scratched from Game 5. He was in noticeable discomfort during his press conference that day, so much so that he turned his chair to face reporters rather than turn his head.
Despite all that, Scherzer is indeed ready to pitch Game 7, and manager Dave Martinez indicated there are no restrictions. "Max will pitch until his neck decides he can't pitch anymore," Martinez said Tuesday.
Here is a timeline of Scherzer's injury and the steps taken to get him ready to pitch.
Sunday, Oct. 27 (Game 5)
Scherzer is scratched from his scheduled start after waking up "completely locked up," as he described it. He received a cortisone shot later in the day and was shut down 48 hours so the injection could kick in.
"I came in, got treatment two days ago, and didn't feel quite right," he said that day. "But I know for me, like hitting, hitting is a similar throwing motion, usually if I can hit usually things can loosen up and I can throw a little bit better. When I hit, I could tell that didn't loosen anything up. So it took throwing off."
Joe Ross started Game 5 in Scherzer's place and allowed four runs in five innings in the loss.
Monday, Oct. 28 (off-day)
Scherzer traveled with the Nationals to Houston but did so with some special accommodations. "We put him in a neck brace. We sat him up in first class, so he had a lot of room," Martinez said with a laugh Tuesday. Scherzer did not participate in any baseball activities Monday.
"We tried to plan accordingly," Martinez explained. "He got the shot. They told him he couldn't do anything for 24 hours. He listened."
Tuesday, Oct. 29 (Game 6)
Once the 48-hour waiting period for the cortisone shot passed,, and declared himself good to go. He threw off flat ground for 10-15 minutes with full effort or close to it. Martinez indicated he would not use Scherzer in Game 6, yet he warmed up in the bullpen in the late innings.
"We got him up knowing that if the game is tied or we were up a run we might have to use him," Martinez explained. "He wanted to go down there and just throw and get loose. We scored some more runs and I immediately shut him down."
"The cortisone shot worked," Scherzer added. "That relieved the pressure on the nerve, and then keep applying heat. Our chiropractor, he does amazing work, he was able to go in there and make adjustment. We did two treatments of it and really freed up the neck, the C5-C6 area, along with the trap, spasm, really felt like it subsided. And even when I was warming up tonight I felt really good. I'm good to go."
Stephen Strasburg, who was scheduled to start Game 6 no matter what happened with Scherzer, was brilliant in the win to force a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday night.
Wednesday, Oct. 30 (Game 7)
Although Scherzer declared himself good to go, the Nationals still had to wait to see how he felt when he woke up Wednesday morning before committing to him as the Game 7 starter. Scherzer felt good and he will indeed take the mound in the biggest game of the year.
"I talked to him today, he says he feels real good," Martinez said. "He's going to go. And he's going to pitch. And we'll see how far he can take us."