Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Max Scherzer Has Been Everything Nats Could Have Hoped For

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Jun 20, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) is doused with chocolate sauce by left fielder Jayson Werth (right) after throwing a no hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 6 – 0. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Scherzer In Complete Control Against Pirates

When you go into more detail about yesterday’s no-hitter, one of the things that you will notice is that the right-hander went predominantly with his fastball. According to Brooks Baseball, 59 of his 106 pitches were fastballs and they averaged 94.7 miles per hour. In the start prior against the Brewers, his fastball was on average of 95.5 miles per hour and threw it on 67 of his 119 pitches.

While Scherzer’s slider was not at its best yesterday, he did an excellent job of pitching to contact and taking advantage of a Pirates lineup that had an early gameplan of avoiding the two strike count. Scherzer had only thrown 15 pitches through the first two innings.

In the third inning, that’s when the strikeouts started to pile up. He struck out five of the next six batters he faced. With his ten strikeouts, Scherzer has had six double digit strikeout games in his last ten outings and leads the National League in K’s with 123.

Then, in the seventh, Scherzer got into the zone after getting a much needed break thanks to the Nats offense scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth. All day, he was getting his fastball up to 97 mph and constantly getting two strike counts on opposing hitters. He did have some tough battles with Jung Ho Kang and of course, Jose Tabata in the ninth, but he was able to work his way out of trouble most of the time.

Let’s take a look at that Tabata at-bat. First off, you have to give the Pirates pinch-hitter a little bit of credit. He was down 0-2 in the count immediately, but got the count to 2-2 and fouled off three straight pitches. Then, on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Tabata got hit in the elbow guard by a slider, but it appeared that he did not make a lot of effort to get out of the way.

This is what Tabata had to say to reporters after the game:

"“He tried to throw a slider inside, and it didn’t break. It stayed right there,” Tabata said. “And he got me. He got me on the elbow, on the protection [his elbow pad]. I want to do my job.” (h/t Tom Singer, MLB.com)"

Regardless of what you thought about that situation, Scherzer was able to shake it off and get Josh Harrison to fly out to left to complete the no-hitter. He was very efficient during his outing, as he did not throw more than 17 pitches in any inning.

Yes, Scherzer will have a chance in his next start to match Johnny Vander Meer as being the second pitcher in history to throw consecutive no-hitters. However, when you think about his last two starts in the grand scheme of things, this may be the closest to Vander Meer’s historic feat from 1938 that we see for a long time. Plus, his game score of 97 yesterday was three points lower than his outing last Sunday against Milwaukee, when he struck out 16 (100 game score).

Next: Defense Comes To The Rescue