Washington Nationals: Max Scherzer’s 2017 report card

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Max Scherzer /

The Washington Nationals starter set the standard for pitching in 2017. What grade did Max Scherzer earn in 2017? A good one.

In the 10 years Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer has stalked major-league mounds, 2017 was his magnum opus.

Scherzer, in winning his third Cy Young Award in the last five years, cemented his case as one of the top pitchers in baseball and worthy of a Sunday afternoon in the New York sun five years after retirement.

National League hitters did not reach base against him. In 200.2 innings, Scherzer’s WHIP of 0.902 led the league. He scattered 126 hits over those frames giving him a whopping 5.651 H/9 rate. Again, NL-best. If WAR is your thing, his 7.6 tied Giancarlo Stanton for NL tops.

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Yeah, Scherzer was “imaxxulate” again.

Strikeouts? He threw a few. Try 268, the fourth-straight year Scherzer topped 250 and the seventh consecutive 200 punch out year. Toss in two complete games and you understand how he repeated.

Although his 16 wins is low for him, Scherzer has two 20-win seasons under his belt, his 2.51 ERA is a career-best. In this era of Clayton Kershaw’s amazing consistency, Scherzer is a half-step behind.

From his 13-strikeout night against the San Diego Padres on May 26 to his seven-inning and 14K virtuoso performance two weeks later at Dodger Stadium, Scherzer was brilliant. He carried a no-hitter into the eighth in Miami on June 21. Five times, he pitched six or more innings scattering two hits.

Scherzer reached double-digit strikeouts 15 times this year. Fifteen!

Assorted leg and neck injuries slowed Scherzer down the stretch, but he growled and patrolled the mound and at his bosses as if every start was a World Series Game 7. If he felt he could retire one more batter, he told Mike Maddux and Dusty Baker to sit down. (We cannot write the actual words on a family website.)

When you consider Scherzer’s ability to read his own body, his importance grows. He was not putting himself in a situation where he could do further damage health-wise. Any start he left early, he made the call.

Oh yeah, Scherzer took a no-hitter into the seventh of Game 3 at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs and lost 2-1. Amazing.

His ability to change from a power thrower to a contact pitcher during a game is uncanny. Scherzer will limit his pitch counts in the middle innings by changing style. The best starters will dial up the power. He adjusts accordingly and his game management in 2017 was historic.

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Did you think Scherzer would grade any worse than an “A+?” Nope.