Washington Nationals: Grading Max Scherzer’s 2016 Season

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Oct 13, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) prepares to pitch during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 13, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) prepares to pitch during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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Max Scherzer had a phenomenal 2016 season and it’s a major reason why pitching was a strength for the Washington Nationals last year.

The Washington Nationals experienced great success during the 2016 campaign, and the pitching played a pivotal role in this area.

The Nats finished second in the National League with a 3.51 team ERA and compiled a 3.60 ERA from the starting rotation, which was also second-best in the Senior Circuit.

Max Scherzer was the leader of the staff and played a crucial role in pitching, being a strength for them. The right-handed ace posted a 2.96 ERA in 228 1/3 innings. He led the NL in wins, strikeouts, and WHIP at 20, 284 and 0.96, respectively.

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Scherzer limited the opposition to a .199 batting average and posted a 2.56 ERA in 15 starts at home. He remained solid with runners in scoring position, as indicated by limiting other teams to a .199 average in this situation.

He kept his cool when the pressure intensified, by holding opposing teams to a .155 average with two outs and runners in scoring position.

The Nats expected greatness from Scherzer and weren’t disappointed when it was his turn in the rotation. The team posted 24-10 record when he started.

The other significant aspects about Scherzer is that he pitched deep in games and was a premier strikeout artist.

There were 20 starts in 2016 that he pitched seven or more innings, including 13 times in which he struck out 10 or more batters.

The best game of the season for him was his start on May 11th against the Detroit Tigers. He feasted against his former team as he tossed a complete game, allowing two runs on six hits and fanning a season-high 20 batters.

In the early part of the season, Scherzer had some competition for the best starter on the club. Stephen Strasburg was carving opposing lineups with great ease, by starting the year 13-0.

However, once Strasburg hit the disabled list due to injuries, Scherzer continued to shine and proved why he’s one of the best pitchers in the NL.

The anchor of the rotation made life tough for batters. He has a blazing fastball that blurs past hitters upon reaching the strike zone and complements it with excellent control of his secondary pitches.

This is a deadly combination, and it’s easy to see why he racks up K’s at a very high rate, while throwing many innings.

Scherzer made two starts in the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and there were mixed results.

He tossed six innings and allowed four runs on five hits in a Game 1 loss, but rebounded in his Game 5 outing, by yielding just one run in six strong innings.

The NLDS loss to the Dodgers was heartbreaking for Scherzer and his club, but I’m confident the Nationals will make a return trip back to the postseason in 2017.

Scherzer is in line to earn some hardware in the offseason, considering he is a contender to win the NL Cy Young Award. He won the AL Cy Young back in 2013 with the Detroit Tigers.

Next: Scherzer Right For Team USA

. SP, Washington Nationals. . Max Scherzer. A+

Scherzer had a spectacular 2016 season filled with terrific moments, and Nats’ fans can look for more of the same next year as he will be the leader of the starting rotation with the hopes of bringing a title to the nation’s capital.

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