After yet another jaw-dropping performance on Wednesday night, it is time to sit back and truly appreciate the greatness of Nationals’ pitcher Max Scherzer.
When the Washington Nationals signed Max Scherzer in January of 2015, there was question by many in the baseball world why a team with so much starting pitching already would hand out a huge contract to another starter. After the offseason concluded baseball executives in an anonymous poll voted Scherzer’s deal the “worst deal” of that offseason.
As we sit here four years later in 2019, that narrative could not be further from the truth. You could make a solid argument the Scherzer’ deal is the best free agent signing in baseball history, and after striking out 10 in seven shutout innings with a black eye and broken nose, the legend of Mad Max continued to grow.
Since coming to Washington in 2015, Scherzer has recorded double-digit strikeouts in a game 63 times, has never had an earned run average above 2.96, and has started at least 31 games in his four full seasons.
The future Hall-of-Famer also has been named an All-Star in each of his first four seasons in D.C. and has won two Cy-Young awards, and is well on his way to winning another this season. Currently, Scherzer is second in baseball in pitching WAR at 4.4, leads the National League with 106.1 innings pitched and 146 strikeouts, and has climbed back into the top five in ERA with a 2.62 earned run average.
Scherzer leads of all baseball with a 2.19 F.I.P, and over the last month, no one has been close to on his level. In his last five starts, Max is 4-0 with a 1.03 E.R.A. In those five starts, Scherzer has struck out 50 batters, walked just six, and given up only four earned runs. Washington is 5-0 in his last five starts, and Scherzer’s win-loss record has improved from 2-5 to 6-5 in the past month.
It is easy to focus on the stats and be in awe about just how dominant Mad Max has been, but equally impressive is his presence on and off the mound. After his breaking his nose in batting practice on Tuesday, everyone in the world questioned if he would be able to take the mound for his scheduled start on Wednesday, except Max himself.
Scherzer knew his team needed him in this vital series against the division-rival Philidelphia Phillies, and nothing was going to stop him from taking that mound. Broken-nose, black eye and all, Scherzer came out and absolutely dominated the Phillies.
After letting the leadoff man Cesar Hernandez reach in the top of the seventh, Scherzer sat at 101 pitches and the tying run on second base. To most, stopping that runner from scoring with no one out is a near impossible task, no less with over 100 pitches and a broken nose, but for Scherzer, there is never a doubt.
He proceeded to strike out the next three batters in order, capping off his night with a nasty slider to retire All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, and give an animated slap of the glove as he stalked his way towards the Nationals’ dugout.
Could this gutsy, dominant performance help the Nationals flip this season around and make a run back into the postseason race? It just might, but the reality is no matter what the situation, we are witnessing something on the mound every fifth day that will be talked about for ages.
Max Scherzer is a future Hall-of-Famer, a three, and likely four-time Cy-Young winner, but seemingly every time he takes the mound, his legacy continues to grow. The Washington Nationals season could take a monumental swing up from here, or they could continue to pudder in mediocrity, but regardless of their outcome, every five days the legend of Mad Max continues to grow larger than life.