Washington Nationals Rapid Reactions: Max Scherzer Rides Dominant 1st Half into the All-Star Break
By Matt Weyrich
Max Scherzer may not be pitching in this year’s All-Star Game, but if it weren’t for his unfortunate alignment of starts, he certainly would be. The Washington Nationals’ ace has put together one of the most dominant first halves in recent memory, going 10-7 in 18 starts, while putting up a 2.11 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP, and 150 strikeouts all over an NL-leading 132 innings pitched. In his final start before the All-Star Break, Scherzer continued his run of excellence, allowing two earned runs on four hits, struck out seven and walked none in 8.2 innings. Undoubtedly the front-runner for the NL Cy Young Award, can the $210 million arm keep it up in the second half?
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Among all qualified National League starters, Scherzer ranks third in ERA, first in WHIP, first in FIP, second in WAR, tied for second in wins, second in strikeouts, second in walks, first in innings pitched, and first in complete games. Analysts from the likes of ESPN and Grantland have Max as their No. 1 choice for the Cy Young. Amongst a group of pitchers that includes the likes of Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates, that is an impressive feat.
If Max Scherzer does take home the hardware, he would be the first player since Roy Halladay to win the Cy Young Award in both the National and American Leagues, and only the sixth all-time. Those six pitchers are Halladay (AL in 2003; NL in 2010), Pedro Martinez (1999 & 2000; 1997), Randy Johnson (1995; 1999-2002), Gaylord Perry (1972; 1978), and Roger Clemens (1986-1987, 1991, 1997-1998, 2001; 2004) make for a pretty coveted company. If his teammate, Bryce Harper, continues his torrid hitting throughout the rest of the season, the two of them would be the 19th duo to win the Cy Young and MVP. Of those previous 18 teams, 17 went on to win their division or league.
While it is disappointing that Nats fans will only be seeing one hat with a Curly W on the front taking the field to start Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati, it is far better for the team to use the break to garner an extra start out of Scherzer. Only time will tell if winning an exhibition game that determines home field advantage in the World Series will have any effect on the Nats, but giving Max the ball to possibly open up the second half of the season? Manager Matt Williams has never had an easier decision.