After the walk-off win in the season opener, the Washington Nationals were in good position to sweep a double header from the Atlanta Braves on day two. Erick Fedde was gifted a 4-1 lead after one inning, and promptly gave it away, and then some. In game two, the Nationals squandered a stellar pitching performance from Stephen Strasburg, then gave up a late home run to Pablo Sandaval (how is this guy still in the league).
As the Nats take a 1-2 record on the road to play the Los Angeles Dodgers, we are left to sift through the ashes of the first series.
Three shocking statistics which stand out from the Washington Nationals first series of the season.
Max Scherzer and the gopher ball.
Since when did Max Scherzer become a guy who gives up the long ball? Well, he has always been bitten by the home run ball, though maybe not to this extent on one day. In 2016 he may have won the Cy Young Award, but he also surrendered a league high 31 homers. He had given up a big fly in the first inning of each of his past two Opening Day starts and wasted little time making it three. Ronald Acuna, the first batter he faced, took him deep to kick off the 2021 season. All told, Mad Max allowed four solo home runs on the day and now has a head start to dubiously leading the league in this category again.
The only stat that could be worse is if Scherzer walked hitters ahead of these home runs. As he proved again in game one, solo home runs won’t beat you. Regardless, if Max and the Nationals are going to compete this year, he needs to keep the ball in the park.