W/L: 15-8 ERA Range: 2.99-3.18 IP Range: 203-210.7 WAR Estimate: 5.6-5.8
All three projections have Max Scherzer starting three less games this year than last at 31. An 18-game winner, a 15-win effort is a smart conservative effort. The ERA projection is right along last year’s 2.96 while his K/9 numbers drop from 11.2 to 10.8.
One thing all the models say is concerning is a raise in Batting Average for balls in play. Last season, Scherzer’s BAbip was a healthy .255. All three models show a jump to around .300. Steamer gives the best estimate at .289 while Depth Charts has him at .304.
If true, that puts added pressure on Scherzer to keep the ball in the yard, a problem he has. They all have him dropping to around 1.0 HR/9. A good sign.
What the computers cannot project with Scherzer is his ring finger injury. Even with three less protected starts, he has yet to throw an inning this spring and is avoiding using his normal grip until the pain subsides.
Although the fastball speed appears to be no different in side sessions, the only true judge is game action. If he feels comfortable using the three-fingered approach, Scherzer can take the pressure off his fractured knuckle and relax.
The WAR estimate puts him in contention for another Cy Young. If the Nats are to repeat in the division, these numbers need to be accurate. They need Scherzer to pitch into the seventh every time out.