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Max Scherzer scratched for Game 5 over back spasms; Joe Ross to start in his place

Manager Dave Martinez announced the development on Sunday afternoon.

WASHINGTON — Max Scherzer will not start Game 5 due to neck and back spasms, Nationals manager Dave Martinez announced on Sunday afternoon. Joe Ross will start in his place.

Martinez told reporters before the game that Scherzer woke up experiencing the spasms on Saturday and spent all day getting treatment.

"Today he just locked up ... neck's jacked up, he was in a bad place," Martinez said. "He's really upset about it. believe me, I've never seen Max this quiet. He's very quiet."

Scherzer spoke later, saying he was "as disappointed as I possibly can be to be able to not pitch tonight. I mean it's Game 5 of the World Series."

He described how debilitating the neck spasms are from the standpoint of pure functionality.

"I've pitched through so much crap in my career, that it would be easy to pitch through at this point. This is literally impossible to do anything with," Scherzer said.

He said he began feeling them two days ago, and on Saturday thought he had worked things out with team doctors to where he would be able to deal with them.

Sunday morning, though, he was "completely locked up."

Scherzer said he has full confidence in replacement starter Joe Ross, however.

"You know for me I still have faith in everybody in this clubhouse," he said. "Watching Joe Ross pitch the other night, I thought he looked extremely polished in what he was able to do. In our clubhouse we just believe the next guy up can always get the job done, right now its coming down to Joe."

Martinez said he would continue ahead with plans to start Stephen Strasburg in Game 6 if Scherzer heals in the next couple days. If his condition improves, he would start Game 7.

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Ross, a 26-year-old right-hander, struggled during the season, recording a 5.48 ERA in 64 innings stretched across nine starts and 16 relief appearances.

He struck out 57 batters and walked 33.

He made a solid relief appearance, though, in Washington's 4-1 loss in Game 3, tossing two scoreless innings.

He allowed one hit and did not walk or strike out any batters.

Strasburg voiced his confidence in Ross before the game.

"Joe's kind of done a little bit of everything this year, he's such a great competitor such a great athlete," Strasburg said. "I trust his ability to prepare."

Ross was battered out of the bullpen to begin the year, with an 11.05 ERA in 17 appearances in the first half.

He was stronger as a starter in the second half, making nine starts with a 3.83 ERA in just under 50 innings. He struck out 45 and walked 24 in that time.

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