Despite two dreadful nights at Citi Field against the red-hot New York Mets, Max Scherzer will still lead the Washington Nationals to the playoffs.
For the Washington Nationals, the past two nights at Citi Field have been like a horror movie. In the beginning, things go well, and you think you just may be safe, but in the end, it will always go wrong. The red-hot New York Mets have taken the first two games of this early-August series to move just 0.5 games behind the Nationals for the top wild-card spot.
The atmosphere at Citi Field this weekend has been unbelievable, and with Washington suffering gut-wrenching losses in the first two games, it has given some a “the sky is falling” feeling. But don’t panic. The Washington Nationals are a still a great team, and they will be going to the postseason come October, in big part due to their ace.
Did you know that despite having just one less loss than the Mets, 61-55 to 61-56, the Nationals have almost a 15% better chance to make the postseason than New York according to FanGraphs? There is a rhyme and reason for this, and the guy who has the most to do with it is not on the field right now. He is Max Scherzer.
The Cy Young candidate has made just one start since the All-Star break while dealing with a back injury. Since Scherzer hit the IL for the second time on July 25 the Nationals are 6-8. When healthy this season, Mad Max has been the best pitcher in baseball.
In 20 starts he holds a 2.41 ERA to go with 189 strikeouts, a 0.990 WHIP and a 2.08 FIP, which leads the league. Scherzer has also struck out nine or more batters in 13 of his 20 starts.
Since June 2 the Nationals are 7-1 in Scherzer’s last eight starts. He has given up more than two runs once in that span. He also has struck out double-digit batters in six of those eight starts. Before hitting the IL Mad Max was on pace to post a historic season.
What he brings on the field in production simply cannot be replicated, but the attitude he brings to the team may be just as important. There is not a player in baseball who plays with more passion than Scherzer. In his five years in D.C., we have seen it all from stalking the mound, foaming at the mouth, and talking to himself like a mad man in between pitches.
The Nationals miss this presence right now, and it shows on the field. Max brings a fire to the team as no one can, and when he is on the mound you can see the ripple effects through the other players. And oh yeah, Washington misses his on the field production in a big way too.
The Nationals are a ship that is missing their captain. Sure someone can take over and steer while you are in open waters, but when it comes time to pull the thing into port, you need your captain at the helm.
The Nationals are about to get their captain back, and he has something to prove. After missing substantial time for the first time in his Washington career, Max Scherzer is going to come back with a vengeance. So sit back Nationals fans and be patient. Your Washington Nationals are still going to the playoffs, Mad Max wouldn’t have it any other way.