Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
In his last start against the Mets, the Nats needed Max Scherzer to put up an ace-type game and Scherzer could not deliver. He went six innings, gave up five runs on seven hits, struck out six, and walked none in a no-decision. He has now gone seven straight starts without recording a win.
One of the main problems for Scherzer in the second half of the season has been the location of his fastball. While the velocity is still there, he gave up three home runs in his last outing and has given up eight home runs in his last five starts. While the 31-year-old right-hander has 225 strikeouts this season, he has a 5.12 ERA in his last tens tarts.
The one thing that could work for Scherzer in this game is that his last win came against Miami on July 30. He went seven innings, gave up no runs on three hits, struck out six batters, and walked three. He is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts against Miami this season and he has a 4.00 ERA in four career outings against them (2-1 record). Martin Prado (.284, 7 HR, 52 RBI’s) is 8-for-16 against Scherzer with a home run and two RBI’s.
As for Brad Hand, his last outing was one he would like to forget. On September 5 against the Mets, Hand went 1.2 innings, gave up seven runs on six hits, struck out two batters, and walked two. Hand has lost back-to-back games, with one of those losses coming against the Nats on August 30 when he gave up five runs on eight hits over 4.2 innings.
This year, as a starter, the 25-year-old left-hander has a 5.51 ERA in ten starts. The one thing that should work in Hand’s favor is that he is a groundball pitcher (11+ groundball outs in five of his last six starts), but the Mets hit three home runs against him last Saturday and he has given up six home runs in his last five outings.
In ten career outings (eight starts) against the Nats, Hand is 0-6 with a 7.96 ERA. Bryce Harper, who hit two home runs on Wednesday, is 4-for-13 against Hand with a triple, a home run, and five RBI’s.
Advantage: On paper, this looks like a complete mismatch even with Scherzer struggling to keep opponents from hitting the ball out of the park. If the Nats can bring the offense to the ballpark on Sunday, they should be able to get the win against Hand. Nats take the series and Scherzer snaps the winless streak.