Max Scherzer's goal remains the same: Win the World Series

Chris Lingebach
March 27, 2019 - 5:14 pm

Max Scherzer enters his fifth season in Washington coming off another near Cy Young campaign in 2018.

The 34-year-old Nationals ace went 18-7 with a 2.53 ERA, leading the Majors in innings (220.2) and strikeouts (300), the latter a career-high, and the National League in wins. Scherzer finished second in NL Cy Young voting, falling just short of his third-straight season winning the award. That would go to Jacob deGrom, who's 0.912 WHIP Scherzer just eked out at 0.911.

The Nolan Ryan of his day, Scherzer – the NL Cy Young recipient in 2016 and 2017 – has been well worth the $210 million the Nationals committed to him in 2015. And despite his gaudy numbers, Scherzer's primary goal remains the same.

"There's two goals I have," the three-time Cy Young Award winner told 'Grant & Danny,' who he joins each Nationals homestand all season long, presented by F.H. Furr. "One, win the World Series."

"That's the reason you play this game," he said. "That's the single greatest motivator for everything you do in my life for baseball, is to win and win the World Series."

"But number two is just get better as a pitcher," Scherzer continued. "Find things in my game that I can continue to get better at, pay attention to what's going on in the league to see if there's anything that I'm missing, so that, if there's things I can do to continue to refine all my pitches, to make myself just that much better.

"The numbers, that all takes care of itself. I can't get caught up in results, because some days you're gonna have it, some days you're not. I focus on being consistent and having the right process and the right train of thought, of how I want to go out there and execute a plan and how I execute the pitches, and be able to execute the pitches in so many different ways. I feel like when I'm able to do that, that's what makes me successful, and then getting on the same page with your catcher, then that's when the fun really starts to happen."

Scherzer glowed about the addition of Anibal Sanchez, whom Washington signed for two years at $19 million, to the rotation. Scherzer played parts of three seasons with Sanchez in Detroit (2012-2014), and has already witnessed this spring his evolution as a pitcher since 2014.

"He's amazing," Scherzer said. "The way he can put pitches together. I mean, he could really pitch when I played with him in Detroit, but now seeing him really throw, like watching him throw in the exhibition against the Yankees (on Monday), you can just see how much he really knows how to pitch, and how he puts his pitches together and what he's seeing.

"He really sees the hitter's swing and then can react around that. He's probably one of the best in the game right now in terms of understanding how to change speeds, even on certain pitches. I mean, he changes speeds on his change-up so well."

Sanchez allowed two earned runs while recording four strikeouts and four walks over 5.1 innings in the 5-3 exhibition win over the Yankees. After a three-year skid in Detroit (2015-17), through which his ERA averaged 5.67, Sanchez bounced back strong in Atlanta last season, going 7-6 with a 2.83 ERA for the NL East-winning Braves.

"No two pitches are the same speed and they move in different ways," Scherzer said. "He's really, really intelligent out there."

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