Of course, Mad Max took a baseball straight to the face during a bunting drill in Nationals' batting practice Tuesday ... and suffered a nasty broken nose and a black eye as a result.
But, Scherzer toughed it out and pitched for Washington just 24 hours later ... and DOMINATED -- throwing 7 innings with no earned runs and 10 strikeouts against the Phillies.
Verlander -- who played with Max for a few years in Detroit -- says he saw his ex-teammate put in the work ... and he was impressed!!!
By the way ... we also asked Verlander if he thinks he's done enough in his own career to deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame -- and he tells us he ain't so sure.
But, with 213 career wins, 2,839 strikeouts AND an MVP award on his resume ... come on, JV!!!