"He's a pretty good pitcher," Matt Williams said after watching Max Scherzer strike out 13 of the 27 batters he faced in seven scoreless against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field. Washington's $210M right-hander improved to (6-3) in 10 starts for the Nationals and lowered his ERA to 1.51 on the season to go along with a 1.80 FIP, 10.67 K/9, 1.26 BB/9 and a .199 BAA after 71 ⅔ IP.
"He was pretty good," Cubs' manager Joe Maddon deadpanned. "He was pretty good. Didn't lose anything, game in progress, he did not, his stuff maintained.
"I think we had him up to 107 or whatever pitches, I think that may have [been] what got him out of the game at that point, but there was no let-up in his stuff, location, movement, those kind of things. He's really-- I've seen it before way too often."
Scherzer mixed things up a little bit on the Cubs, but was throwing predominantly fastballs (65 of 108 pitches) that sat around 95.9 mph, though he dialed it up occasionally, throwing as hard as 98.3 mph according to BrooksBaseball.net.
Williams said what's most impressive is the right-hander's preparation.
"He's got a real good plan for everybody that he faces," the Nats' skipper explained.
"He's diligent about it. He takes time to work on it. He's got extra gears that a lot of people don't have. We saw that tonight. He threw one fastball at 98 [mph] for crying out loud. So, when he needs to reach back he can do it. Pretty good pitcher."
Scherzer's opponent on the mound, Jon Lester, put together a solid start of his own, giving up seven hits, two walks and two runs, one earned, in seven innings, striking out 10 and inducing nine ground ball outs from the 30 batters he faced.
"It was good," he said of the start, in which he suffered his first loss since April 19th.
"Obviously Max threw the ball just a little bit better than I did," Lester continued. "It was fun though. Obviously we lost and that's not the ultimate goal, but if you're a pitcher, if you're just a purist of the game and like watching pitching matchups that was fun tonight."
The unearned run that scored when Lester was on the mound came after an error on what should have been a double play grounder in the fourth and the earned run he gave up came on a 93 mph 2-1 fastball that Bryce Harper hit out to left for his 18th home run of the season and 13th in May.
"I made one mistake and when you're going against a guy like [Scherzer] you can't make any," Lester said.
"Unfortunately we weren't able to beat him down at all and get him out of that game early, but I feel like guys had some pretty good at bats and he's just really good."
That seemed to be the theme and understatement of the night. Max Scherzer is pretty/really good.