Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer continued to make his Cy Young case with two outstanding starts this week, leading to him being named District on Deck’s player of the week.
At 32, Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer has etched his name in the history books quite a bit. He’s won the Cy Young award in both leagues, he’s struck out 20 in one game, he’s thrown two no-hitters in one season, the list goes on and on.
Despite the fact that he’s in his tenth big league season and is nearing 1,800 innings pitched, he is still one of the best pitchers in the world. You could even make the case that he is the best pitcher in the world.
On a team that is known for pitching, Scherzer stands out. Between his dominance and his antics on the mound, his starts are must-see TV. The Nats signed him to a seven-year, $210 million contract and he proves time and time again that he is worth every penny.
After winning his second career Cy Young Award in 2016, Scherzer has already made quite the case to repeat. A little over one third of the way through the season, Scherzer leads the National League in innings pitched (99.2), strikeouts (134), batting average against (.174), and WHIP (0.84). He’s also second in ERA (2.26), just .03 behind Clayton Kershaw.
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Scherzer continued his phenomenal season this week with two incredible starts. In a week that saw solid starts from Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, and Stephen Strasburg, Scherzer led the Nats in nearly every statistical category.
In his two starts, he had a 1.76 ERA, pitched 15.1 innings, allowed just three earned runs on seven hits, and struck out 20.
Scherzer’s first start of the week came on Sunday against a tough Rangers lineup. He did an excellent job of keeping them in check and was battling Austin Bibens-Dirkx pitch for pitch before the bullpen blew yet another game in the eighth inning, leading to Scherzer being handed a tough-luck loss.
Scherzer pitched wonderfully despite receiving very little help from the offense. Brian Goodwin led off with a homer, which was followed by a Bryce Harper single, but the Nats would only record one more hit throughout the rest of the game.
Scherzer’s final stat line read 7.1 innings pitched, three hits allowed, three runs allowed (only two of which were earned), and ten strikeouts. With a better bullpen, Scherzer may have only allowed one run. Oliver Perez and Blake Treinen both struggled in relief, and allowed two runs to score that were charged to Scherzer.
Although the Nats had a game to forget, Scherzer reached a personal milestone. In the fourth inning, he struck out Nomar Mazara to become the third-fastest pitcher to record 2,000 strikeouts. Only Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson reached 2,000 strikeouts quicker.
Scherzer’s final start of the week came on Friday night on national television against the Mets. He did not disappoint, and pitched another gem. In eight innings, he only allowed one run on four hits and struck out ten.
The only run he allowed was on a Jose Reyes solo homer in the eighth inning. Scherzer was tiring quickly and hung a breaking ball, making it very hittable. After the homer, he buckled down and got through the eighth inning without any further damage.
Scherzer’s night and the eighth inning were capped off by an 11-pitch battle with Yoenis Cespedes. This match-up featured two of the best in the sport and Cespedes put up a good fight, but was ultimately overmatched and struck out to end the inning.
After the game, Dusty Baker was asked if Scherzer is the best pitcher he has ever managed and his response was, “well, lately.” This is a tremendous compliment, considering how long Baker has been managing and the caliber of pitchers he has managed before.
Baker also named Don Sutton as a pitcher Scherzer resembles. This is another remarkable compliment because Sutton is a Hall of Famer. If Scherzer continues to pitch near this level, he has a very good shot at the Hall of Fame, and people around the league are taking notice.
Since coming to Washington, Scherzer has arguably been the best pitcher in the league. He has continued to dominate this season and appears set to lead the Nats on a deep postseason run. Pitching wins games in the playoffs and there aren’t many guys you’d rather have on the mound when it counts. It should be a lot of fun to watch Scherzer continue to make his Cy Young case and dominate down the stretch.