DEVASTATING: Max Scherzer scratched for Game 5

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Huge news out of Washington late this afternoon: Max Scherzer, scheduled Game 5 starter of the Nationals, has been scratched due to neck spasms.

Scherzer had apparently been suffering from neck pain for a few days but it was much worse this morning. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said a few moments ago that Scherzer is “in ungodly pain.” Given how hard it is to take the ball from the uber-intense Scherzer on most occasions, you have to imagine the pain is, indeed, immense.

In Scherzer’s place: Joe Ross. Which, I’m sure even Ross would acknowledge, is a massive downgrade from Scherzer. Ross has only pitched one game in the postseason, tossing two shutout innings in relief in Game 3. In the regular season he started nine games and relieved in 18, posting a 5.48 ERA.

With the series now, effectively, a best two-out-of-three, losing Max Scherzer is, potentially, a gigantic blow to the Nationals. For it not to be, Ross will have to pitch the game of his life.

No pressure.

Gallegos agrees to 2-year, $11M contract with Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS – Reliever Giovanny Gallegos and the St. Louis Cardinals agreed to a two-year, $11 million contract, a deal that includes a club option for 2025 and escalators that could make it worth $20.5 million over three seasons.

The 31-year-old right-hander is 3-5 with a 2.91 ERA and 14 saves in 20 chances this season. He has 72 strikeouts and 15 walks in 58 2/3 innings.

“I feel so happy,” Gallegos said before the Cardinals played the Pirates in Pittsburgh. “I don’t have the word for exactly how I’m feeling.”

He was obtained from the Yankees in July 2018 along with left-hander Chasen Shreve in the trade that sent first baseman Luke Voit to New York. Gallegos is 14-15 with a 3.02 ERA and 34 saves in six major league seasons.

Gallegos gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $4.5 million next year and $5.5 million in 2024. St. Louis has a $6.5 million team option for 2025 with a $500,000 buyout.

His 2025 option price can increase by up to $3.5 million for games finished in 2024: $500,000 each for 20-25 and 26-30 and 31-35, and $1 million apiece for 36-40 and 41 or more.

He would get $250,000 for winning the Rivera/Hoffman reliever of the year award, $50,000 for All-Star selection and World Series MVP and $25,000 for League Championship Series MVP.

Gallegos has a $2.41 million salary this year.

He was eligible for salary arbitration and is potentially eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.