Max Scherzer 'one of the great pitchers of our time'

Chris Lingebach
June 26, 2019 - 1:23 pm

Max Scherzer turned in another dominant performance Tuesday, striking out 10 Marlins batters while allowing just one earned run on five hits over eight innings.

Then 42-year-old Fernando Rodney, in his first appearance for the Nationals, came in to close things out in the ninth, recording three straight outs – on a strikeout and a double play induced – after walking his first batter, to seal the 6-1 Nationals win.

As the weather heats up, so too has Scherzer, who's allowed only five earned runs and struck out 69 over his past seven starts, dating back to May 22.

"This is historical stuff," said Nats GM Mike Rizzo during his weekly 106.7 The Fan appearance, presented by Burke & Herbert Bank. "This is one of the great pitchers of our time and a Hall of Fame caliber guy."

Scherzer's posted a 0.97 ERA, allowing four earned runs while recording 54 strikeouts to just five walks over his last five starts. Now 7-5 with a 2.52 ERA on the season, Scherzer has parlayed one of the worst starts of his career in April into one of the best months of his career in June, throwing truly dominant stuff each time out.

With double-digit strikeouts in four out of five June starts – topped by his 15-strikeout performance on June 2 – Scherzer now has seven outings with 10-plus strikeouts this season.

Asked if he's ever seen such a dominant stretch, Rizzo said, "Yeah, he's been great, but he's been great since we drafted him in 2006." 

Rizzo was a member of an Arizona scouting department that made Scherzer a first-round pick out of Missouri.

"(He) was one of the best pitchers in the league. Day in and day out, start in and start out, he gives you an opportunity to win," Rizzo went on. "He gives you his best. He leaves everything on the mound each and every time. The days that he's got four or five pitches going and he's throwing strikes, those are the dominant days and those are the things that's must-see TV."

Rizzo hasn't been shy about framing Scherzer discussions in the proper historical context, and took Wednesday's interview as another opportunity to remind Nats fans exactly what they're seeing.

"I think that we're seeing something from a Major League pitcher that we're very fortunate, because we get to see this every fifth day," Rizzo said. "This is historical stuff. This is one of the great pitchers of our time and a Hall of Fame caliber guy. A guy who just, he leaves it on the mound each and every day.

"When he's great, he's great. When he's just good, it's fun to watch because he just leaves everything on the mound. I think those are the times that really separate him from the great pitchers, is when he's struggling for command or he's struggling to get guys out, you just see the competitiveness come out of him. Those are the games I love to see."

Asked whether it was Scherzer's talent, or his moxie, that first drew his attention, Rizzo acknowledged that Scherzer's mental makeup is what's driven him into historical company.

"It's just the attitude," he said. "That's the reason we took him in 2006, was the way he went after people. It was his competitiveness on the mound. You know, his stuff was good. It wasn't elite. He came into the league and was a good pitcher, and was traded and that type of thing. This guy's makeup made him what he is.

"He has some God-given ability, but this guy squeezes out every ounce of ability and capability that he has in each and every start."

"Like I said, when he's going good, it's fun to watch," Rizzo added. "Those are the 15-strikeout days. Also, when he's just going okay is really when you see the competitiveness and what makes Max Scherzer different than most every other pitcher in the game, is that he wills himself to win and he wills himself to go the extra inning, the extra pitch."

"He talks about it all the time, the last 15," he said. "Those last 15 pitches when he's emptying the tank is probably, for me, one of the most enjoyable, compelling, competitive things to watch in all of sports."

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