In five Grapefruit League outings last Spring, Max Scherzer, after signing a 7-year/$210M deal with the Washington Nationals, put up an impressive 1.35 ERA and a .205 batting average against, walking just one batter (0.45 BB/9) and striking out 23 (10.35 K/9) in 20 innings, providing a preview of what was to come in his first campaign in the nation's capital.
Scherzer, who turned 31 last July, ended up going (14-12) in 33 starts for the Nationals, posting a 2.79 ERA, a 2.77 FIP, 34 walks (1.34 BB/9) and 276 Ks (10.86 K/9) in 228 ⅔ innings pitched, over which he was worth a career-high 6.4 fWAR.
When he arrived in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium earlier this month, the right-hander talked to reporters about what he's trying to do in Spring Training as he prepares for his second season in D.C.
"There's things I'm going to work on," Scherzer explained.
"You try to perfect a certain pitch. You're trying to find situations where you're going to use your pitches a little different.
"I might use my curveball in a different situation. Might use my changeup. You try to find different situations, you don't want to just continue to do the same thing because that's where hitters will figure out that pattern and beat you.
"So you've got to be trying to do new things, but you don't get caught up in results. I think that's the biggest thing.
"Even as a player, sometimes you want to have good results and you don't need good results in Spring, you need to have good feel."
Scherzer got in some early work against his own teammates in an intrasquad last week, throwing a total of 23 pitches to Nationals' hitters.
He told reporters, including Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes, that it was good to get back on the mound and get started again:
"It’s honestly just to get out there and get some feel. It feels so awkward getting out there in a game situation. I haven’t done it in five, six months," Scherzer said. "So the fact that I didn’t drill anybody is a big plus."
This afternoon in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium, Scherzer makes his first Grapefruit League start of the Spring against the New York Mets he no-hit in his final 2015 outing.
Here's the lineup the Nationals are sending out to take on their NL East rivals:
Broadcast Notes: Scherzer and the Nationals take on the Mets at 1:05 PM EST. This afternoon's game is available via the Mets' radio broadcast in the New York area and via MLB.com's At Bat app.