When the Washington Nationals signed Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract, people were up in arms about how absurd the contract was and how undeserving Scherzer was. Scherzer is a very good pitcher but he is no Clayton Kershaw or Felix Hernandez. That was the years past. This season? Scherzer is making a very good case that he is the best pitcher in baseball.
So far, in his first season in Washington, Scherzer has made 14 starts. Of those 14 games started, “Mad” Max has given up one run or less in 10 of those games. His last two starts have been the greatest pitching performance in a two-game span probably in the history of baseball (he posted an average Game Score of 98.5 for the two starts).
Before his June 14 start against the Milwaukee Brewers Scherzer threw one complete game in his career. He had never pitched a no-hitter nor a perfect game. He’s come close but has never been able to complete such a feat. On June 14, Scherzer had everything going for him, including a no-hitter going into the seventh inning.
Carlos Gomez hit a bloop single to break up Scherzer’s no-hitter. He would then retire the next nine batters to throw a complete-game one-hitter. His best start of his career would be followed by a day to remember.
On Saturday, Scherzer completed what he came oh so close to doing his previous start; he threw a no-hitter. He was an out away from throwing a perfect game but settled for the no-hitter after hitting Jose Tabata with two outs in the ninth.
The last two starts, Scherzer has thrown 18.0 innings without allowing a run and giving up only one hit. He has lowered his ERA to a league-best 1.76 while improving his record to 8-5. Scherzer has been outstanding this season and it is time to put him in the conversation as one of the two or three best pitchers in the league. No one expects him to keep his under-2 ERA but do not be surprised if he is crowned National League Cy Young at the end of the season.
The Nationals, who received tons of flak for handing Scherzer a monster contract, are smiling because every team wishes they had Scherzer right now. He is the reason the Nationals are in the race and will be the reason they are in contention come September.
Scherzer has proven his worth up to this point this season and there are no signs of him slowing down.