Washington Nationals: Max Scherzer Is Built to Be Durable
By Matt Weyrich
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer is 32 and has led the majors in innings over the past three seasons. With five more years left on his contract, the Nats can feel comfortable about his health going forward.
When most players embark on their age-32 season, it’s typically understood whether or not they’re going to have a serious case as a Hall of Famer. However, Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer is far from a typical player. He threw 804 2/3 innings over the first five years of his career, posting a 3.88 ERA but never receiving an All-Star selection or MVP votes.
Since the start of the 2013 season, Scherzer has been a very different pitcher.
He’s posted a 2.95 ERA and 10.6 K/9, making four All-Star teams and winning a Cy Young award in each league. His best performances include two no-hitters and a 20-strikekout game. Prior to the 2015 season, he inked a $210 million contract with Washington. Needless to say, it’s been a life-changing four years for Scherzer.
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When the Nats signed Scherzer to that seven-year deal, some critics pointed to Scherzer’s age and said he wouldn’t be able to sustain his success over the course of his contract. While there’s still plenty of time for those concerns to come to fruition, Scherzer’s arm hasn’t seen as much usage as other pitchers his age.
In his nine-year career, Scherzer has tossed 1,691 1/3 innings — less than fellow starters aged-33 or younger Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels. He only threw 170 1/3 innings in his first full season wit the Diamondbacks in 2009, but has tossed at least 195 in six of his past seven.
“Your first full season at the major-league level, that’s a major workload,” Scherzer said in an interview with FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. “It’s almost easier for me at this point to go out and make 33 starts than it was that first full season. Even though you’re young and strong and can run through a wall, your body and arm haven’t done it. It takes years to develop that type of workload.”
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According to Rosenthal, Scherzer maintains a throwing program year-round and has kept up with the same weight lifting program he used in college. He has been as dominant as ever over the past two years and the Nats don’t have much to worry about concerning his durability in the near future.