Max Scherzer was named the NL Pitcher of the Month for June this afternoon, becoming the first Washington Nationals' pitcher to ever earn the honor in back-to-back months. In five starts, which included his no-hitter against the Pirates and a complete game shutout and one-hitter against the Brewers, the Nats' 30-year-old right-hander was (3-2) with a 2.33 ERA, 2.49 FIP, four walks (0.93 BB/9), 45 Ks (10.47 K/9) and a .145/.175/.275 line against in 38 ⅔ innings pitched.
After the no-hitter against Pittsburgh, Scherzer talked about the run he was on being some of the best starts he's made in his career.
"My last two starts," he said, "this is some of the best baseball that I've thrown. The best pitching I've done. I just feel like I'm executing with all my pitches. I just continue to keep getting better. And it just shows you hard work pays off."
Nationals' manager Matt Williams talked after the start against the Pirates about the evolution he's seen in Scherzer since they crossed paths early in the right-hander's career in the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization.
"As a young man, he was very tenacious," Williams said.
"That continues. You can see that with some of his mannerisms on the mound. He's aggressive and over time he has learned, as we spoke about, how to expand when he needs to, how to manage pitch counts and get deep in ballgames. So that's the maturity that he's gone through and the maturity of a pitcher as he becomes a veteran that has the kind of stuff that he has. He can manage those pitch counts early, get early outs and go deep into ballgames, the last two have been examples of that."
What he accomplished in the starts against Milwaukee and Pittsburgh was a rare feat as the Nationals noted in a press release on today's award.
Scherzer became just the fifth pitcher in the so-called "Modern Era" of baseball history to allow one hit or fewer in back-to-back complete games and the first to do so since Jim Tobin with the Boston Braves in 1944.