On Thursday night, Max Scherzer was named one of the top 10 starting pitchers in the game on MLB Network
As we get closer to the start of spring training, MLB Network has been airing their series of who are the top ten players in baseball at each position. On Thursday, one of the episodes that aired was the top ten starting pitchers. During this episode, “The Shredder” gives his top ten along with host Brian Kenny and analyst John Smoltz.
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The Shredder had Washington Nationals’ starter Max Scherzer ranked as the sixth best starter, which is one spot down from where he was last year. Smoltz, who was a Hall Of Fame pitcher with the Braves, Cardinals, and Red Sox, ranked Scherzer third on his list behind the 2015 Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta from the Chicago Cubs and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers (number one on the shredder’s list).
In an offseason where everyone is talking about the players who are not taking the Nats’ money, Scherzer was the big splash this time last offseason when he signed a seven-year, $210 million deal. In year one, he lived up to the high expectations. The 31-year-old right-hander went 14-12 with a 2.79 ERA in 33 starts, which included three shutouts, four complete games, two no-hitters, and he made the All-Star team. If you look at where Scherzer’s numbers stacked up with the rest of baseball, the 2013 Cy Young award winner was in the top 15 in wins (tied for 14th), 11th in ERA, second in strikeouts (276), and fourth in WHIP.
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From a sabermetric perspective, Scherzer’s FIP of 2.77 was the second lowest of his career (2.74 FIP in 2013). His ERA+ of 144 was tied for the second best of his career (151 with the Diamondbacks in 2008). Both of those numbers were good for sixth in the National League in 2015. His overall WAR of 7.6 was sixth in the NL among all players and second among pitchers (Arrieta – 9.0).
Even though the Nationals have missed out on some big free agent targets this winter, you can’t forget the impact Scherzer had on the rotation and the entire team with the historical season he had. It will be interesting to see how he does in 2016 with Mike Maddux now the pitching coach in DC. With Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister both gone, Scherzer will need to have another great season for the Nats to be in contention for a NL East title. After finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting in 2015, Scherzer should be one of the favorites to win the Cy Young in 2016 even though the National League is deep with quality starting pitching.