Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer will not start Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — In a startling blow to the Washington Nationals’ World Series hopes, ace Max Scherzer will not start Game 5 of the World Series after he arrived at Nationals Park and reported muscle spasms in his right trapezius muscles, the area behind his shoulder. Manager Dave Martinez made the announcement to reporters at about 4:30 p.m., three and a half hours before first pitch.

Right-handed swingman Joe Ross will start in Scherzer’s place against Astros Cy Young candidate Gerrit Cole, preempting a highly anticipated rematch of the Game 1 showdown between two of the best pitchers in baseball.

“Max was quiet,” Martinez said. “I’ve never seem him that quiet before.”

Game 6 starter Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals’ other ace, said teammates knew Scherzer was physically compromised before Sunday. “Guys were talking in the clubhouse,” Strasburg said. “Everybody is dealing with the effects of a long season. You really try to focus on things you can control.”

“Joe’s kind of done a little bit of everything this year,” Strasburg said. “He’s such a great competitor. He’s such a great athlete. I trust his ability to prepare.”

Strasburg said the Nationals never considered starting him on short rest rather than starting Game 6 as scheduled.

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