This week’s Nationals Player Of The Week goes to Max Scherzer for his 20 strikeout performance against the Tigers
This season, our Nationals Player of the Week awards has been given to three of the five starting pitchers in the rotation. Those three pitchers are Tanner Roark, Stephen Strasburg, and Joe Ross. Although Ryan Zimmerman had three home runs this week, there’s no way this week’s honor couldn’t go to Max Scherzer.
For the first time this season, Scherzer showed his dominance from last season on Wednesday night against his old team, the Detroit Tigers. In a complete game, he gave up two runs (both solo home runs) on six hits, walked none, and struck out 20 on 119 pitches (96 strikes).
The 20 strikeouts by Scherzer was only the fifth time that a pitcher had struck out 20 batters in a game. He joined Kerry Wood, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens (twice) as the only pitchers to do that in a nine-inning contest. It was great to see Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker stick with Scherzer in the ninth inning and allow him to get out of the jam and accomplish more history in a curly W uniform.
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For Scherzer, it was a complete turnaround from the pitcher that he was at Wrigley Field the start prior. Against the Cubs on May 6, he went five innings, gave up seven runs on seven hits, struck out seven, walked three, and gave up four home runs in a 7-4 loss. After that start, I wrote about how it was time to be concerned about Scherzer. But, his start against Detroit wiped out most of those.
Despite his great outing, Scherzer was not named NL Player Of The Week. This week, the award went to Marlins’ ace Jose Fernandez. Fernandez had 22 strikeouts in his two starts this week and had a two-run single in yesterday’s 5-1 win over the Nationals.
In eight starts this season, teams are hitting .237 against Scherzer. Normally, that would not be a terrible number, but that number is actually the highest opponents’ batting average of any pitcher in the Nationals’ starting rotation.
Tomorrow night, Scherzer will be at Citi Field to take on the New York Mets in a NL East showdown. In his last visit to Citi Field (October 3, 2015) during game two of a doubleheader, Scherzer struck out 17 Mets in his second no-hitter of the season.
With the Nationals going up against Noah Syndergaard, they will need another dominant performance from their ace after the team lost their last two games against the Miami Marlins. Scherzer was brought in to be the ace of this staff and at least Nationals’ fans know there’s always a chance history can happen when he takes the mound.