The Washington Nationals know all about good starting pitching. They saw their 2009 number overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg throw 14 strikeouts in his MLB debut one year later. They watched on in awe as Gio Gonzalez won 21 games in 2012. They witnessed the team’s first ever no-hitter when Jordan Zimmermann went the distance in the final game of the 2014 season.
Yet the Nationals have never seen pitching like this. third in ERA, first in Ks, first in WHIP, second in IP, tied for fifth in BB, and tied for fourth in wins, Max Scherzer has taken the National League by storm. He is showing no signs of slowing down. The Nats’ ace’s success shouldn’t be surprising to anyone however, as the former Cy Young Winner was predicted to have a monster season by yours truly.
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Scherzer’s dominance has been more than just a good starting pitcher making tough outs. This has been a dependable ace taking the mound every fifth day to halt losing streaks, build winning streaks, and match up against the league’s best. With the rest of the Nationals’ rotation having mixed success, Scherzer has given manager Matt Williams a consistent arm to rely on.
So does the $210 million arm really have a shot at the Cy Young? Reigning MVP Clayton Kershaw (5-3, 3.21 ERA) has returned to mortal status, leaving the door open for other contenders to make a bid at the award. Pittsburgh’s A.J. Burnett (6-2, 1.89) and Gerrit Cole (10-2, 1.71) have been the best 1-2 punch in all of baseball, but would take votes away from each other pitching for the same team. Zack Greinke (5-2, 1.95) could prove to be some serious competition, while Shelby Miller (5-2, 2.02) may be cooling down after his hot start.
Each of these other pitchers may be beating Max in separate categories, but no one has been the all-around superstar quite like Scherzer. As the Midsummer Classic draws nearer, debates will soon begin over who will take the mound to start the All-Star Game for the National League and Max Scherzer will be at the forefront of every conversation.
So far, the Nationals have not had sustained success, even being described by their own TV announcer F.P. Santangelo as “the streakiest team in baseball.” While this offense has been as hot and cold as DMV weather, the bullpen completely unreliable, and his fellow starters unable to live up to expectations, Max Scherzer has been the rock that this Washington Nationals team needs.