HOUSTON — Three days after not being able to raise his right arm due to a nerve issue in his neck, Max Scherzer will start for the Nationals on Wednesday night in Game 7.
In fact Scherzer tossed lightly in the bullpen during the Nationals’ 7-2 win over the Astros in Game 6 on Tuesday night in case he was needed.
“I feel good, the cortisone shot worked,’’ Scherzer said after the victory.
He received the injection Sunday when he was scratched for Game 5.
“It relieved the pressure on the nerve and our chiropractor does amazing work,” he said. “It freed up the neck, C-5 6 area.’’
While Scherzer wasn’t throwing all out in the pen he said there was a plan in place in which he would have been brought into the game late.
“There were scenarios where I was going to pitch [Tuesday night],’’ he said.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez explained he was ready to employ Scherzer if the circumstance presented itself.
“We got him up knowing that if the game is tied or we were up a run we might have to use him. He wanted to go down there and just throw and get loose,’’ Martinez said. “We scored some more runs and I immediately shut him down.’’
Scherzer, 35, threw aggressively off flat ground in the outfield before the game, a good sign the neck issue was in the past.
Asked if Wednesday night’s will be a normal start, Scherzer responded, “It’s Game 7, let’s go. It is what you live for.’’
Considering Scherzer woke up Sunday morning with a neck that was locked to the point he couldn’t raise his arm and required a cortisone injection there has to be questions about how effective he will be against a relentless Astros lineup that bruised Nationals pitchers for 19 runs in Games 3, 4 and 5.
“I can’t see myself telling Max, you’re only going to go 75 pitches. He’s going to want to go out there and go as long as he can,’’ Martinez said of Scherzer, who absorbed a 5-4 loss in Game 1 when he gave up two runs and five hits in five innings.
Scherzer is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA in four postseason starts and 7-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 21 (17 starts) career postseason games. Greinke is 0-2 with a 5.31 ERA in three postseason starts this year. In 15 career postseason outings, he is 3-5 with a 4.31 ERA.
Scherzer sat in a first-class seat with a neck brace on for the flight from D.C. to Houston on Monday. Tuesday he wanted to throw and impressed Martinez.
“He let it air out and he said he felt good. Right now, like I said, we’re at the point now where let’s see how he feels in the next couple of hours,’’ Martinez said before the game. “He looked normal. Just like any other day he throws flat ground. He looked really good. My guess is he comes out [Wednesday] and he’s going to get prepared like he prepares any other game and he’s ready to go and you’re going to see Max be Max.’’
Scherzer mentioned possible long-term damage on Sunday, and Martinez believes the pitcher won’t attempt to be a hero.
“If you know Max like I know Max, everything is — he’s got to look at the whole big picture. He feels good [Tuesday]. That’s all I know. So we’ll see, and we’ll determine how he feels come [Wednesday],’’ Martinez said of Scherzer who has two years and $84.3 million remaining on his contract.
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