2015 Washington Nationals Player Review: Max Scherzer


The Washington Nationals made the biggest free agency splash of the offseason last January when they signed Cy Young Award-winning starting pitcher Max Scherzer for seven years, $210 million. The former Detroit Tigers ace came to D.C. with more wins in the previous three seasons than any other pitcher in baseball.

Scherzer joined a vaunted rotation with the likes of Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez. Expectations for this staff were nothing short of record breaking and the question the Nats faced entered 2015 was not that of whether or not they would make the playoffs, but how far they would go.

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Mad Max exploded out of the gate, posting a 2.11 ERA and 150 strikeouts in his first 18 starts on his way to his third consecutive All-Star selection. Many analysts argued he would have started the Midsummer Classic for the National League had he not been in line to start for the Nats right before the break.

After games resumed however, Scherzer lost his touch. He became more susceptible to allowing home runs, giving up an MLB-leading 17 home runs in the second half. His numbers fell and his chances of securing a Cy Young Award went right along with them. He still managed to finished the year at an All-Star caliber level, going 14-12 with a 2.79 ERA, 0.918 WHIP, and 276 strikeouts in a league-leading 33 starts. No one was more reliable for the Nats in their so-called “historic” rotation and he provided fans with some truly remarkable moments.

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In June, Max Scherzer put together one of the most dominant two-game stretches in MLB history. On the 14th, in an away game against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Nats’ ace went the distance, allowing only a walk and a bloop single while striking out sixteen hitters. His Game Score, a statistic developed by sabermetric analyst Bill James to describe how well a pitcher did in a particular start, was 100, the highest score of anyone not named Scherzer in 2015.

Scherzer wouldn’t stop there, however, as he followed up in his next start with the second no-hitter in Nationals history. He lost a perfect game with two outs in the ninth, when he hit Pittsburgh Pirates’ utility man Jose Tabata with a pitch in the elbow. His remarkable ten strikeout performance put him in company with Chris Sale and R.A. Dickey as the only players in MLB history to complete back-to-back starts with at least ten strikeouts and only one hit or less. Scherzer would not be done making history yet, as he threw another no-hitter three months later against division rival New York Mets. His game score of 104 was the second highest ever by any pitcher in a nine inning game.

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Max Scherzer was brought to D.C. to win games, get to the postseason, and be the ace that his team needs him to be. While there was a shortage of October baseball in the District this season, his quest is not finished yet. Max’s 2015 season was a good one, but provided more of a hint of what is in store for the 31-year old starter. With six more years left on his mega contract, the Nationals had better hope that be the case.

A-. . SP. Washington Nationals. MAX SCHERZER