When the Washington Nationals paid Max Scherzer $210 million in the offseason, they paid him to be the ace and to be the stopper of long losing streaks. Last night, Scherzer went to the mound against the San Francisco Giants, looking to stop the Nats’ three game losing streak and he was looking to put up a near perfect start with the offense scuffling as of late.
For the second straight game, the Nationals got on the board first. This time, it was a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly that put the Nats up 1-0. However, Scherzer gave it right back when Matt Duffy hit a solo shot in he bottom of the inning.
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Last night, the 31-year-old right-hander had his worst start of he season. He went only three innings, gave up six runs on seven hits, struck out three, and did not walk a batter on 58 pitches. The Giants were able to hit his fastball hard all night. Six of their seven hits against Scherzer were extra-base hit (four doubles, two home runs).
According to Brooks Baseball, the Giants put eight of Scherzer’s 29 fastballs in play, with six of them not resulting in a out. Plus, the Giants swung and missed at only two heaters. If Scherzer isn’t locating with his slider and changeup, that allows the hitter to sit on one pitch, which ends up making you pay more often than not.
This is the time of the season where you need the ace to step up and be the driving force towards a pennant push. Scherzer had a great first half, including a no-hitter, but you have to wonder if all of those long starts in the first half are starting to take its toll.
Since the All-Star Break, Scherzer is 1-2 in six starts with an ERA of 5.18. His batting average against of .279 is 96 points higher than in the first half (.185). He has given up 13 runs in his last 15 innings and has allowed eight home runs over his last five starts. After the game, Scherzer told the media what his recent problems might stem from:
If it is strictly a mechanical issue, than Scherzer should be fine. However, it has to be asked if a pitcher who has thrown the most innings in the National League (168) is finally having that high inning total catch up to him. It was a big game last night as the Nats were looking to get back on track, but their ace didn’t deliver.