Max Scherzer will reportedly not make his scheduled start for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS.
With the 37-year-old Cy Young contender not ready to pitch, the Dodgers are left in a lurch as they stare down elimination against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
The Los Angeles Times’ Jorge Castillo broke the news, noting that the options on the current roster include starting Walker Buehler on short rest. The young ace was lined up for Sunday’s potential Game 7. Manager Dave Roberts could also turn to another bullpen game, leaning on David Price or Tony Gonsolin for length.
MLB.com’s Juan Toribio reports that Scherzer’s arm “just hasn’t bounced back” after a start in Game 2 of this series.
Scherzer’s arm just hasn’t bounced back the way he and the #Dodgers hoped, according to a source. The Dodgers are expected to make the move tomorrow.
— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) October 23, 2021
He made that start on two days' rest after closing the Dodgers’ win in NLDS Game 5 against the San Francisco Giants. After throwing just 79 pitches, he told reporters that his arm felt dead.
Roberts and the Dodgers have leaned heavily on starting pitchers like Scherzer and Julio Urias in relief despite carrying only three trusted starters into the postseason. They lost Clayton Kershaw to injury shortly before the playoffs began, and have been using bullpen games (often successfully) to fill the gaps.
Two straight bullpen games, though, could test their limits. They will be facing elimination again on Saturday night in Atlanta after fending it off with three homers from Chris Taylor on Thursday.
Reports indicate Scherzer is experiencing "general arm fatigue" instead of an acute injury. The Los Angeles Times' Mike DiGiovanna reports Scherzer could pitch in a potential Game 7.
Scherzer has experienced postseason injury scares before. In 2019, with the Washington Nationals, he was scratched from a start in World Series Game 5 with severe neck and back spasms, only to return for a triumphant start in Game 7.