Max Scherzer didn’t end up pitching in the season finale with the Colorado Rockies, so his 2018 stats were locked in after his seven-inning, 10-strikeout start against Miami’s Marlins, which saw the back-to-back, defending NL Cy Young award-winner pick up his 300th K of the 2018 campaign.
Scherzer finished his fourth season in the Washington Nationals’ rotation (18-7) in 33 starts with a 2.53 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 51 walks (2.08 BB/9), 300 Ks (12.24 K/9), and a .187/.247/.332 line against in 220 2⁄3 IP.
Scherzer led all NL starters in wins (tied), innings pitched, overall Ks, and K/9, was ranked sixth in BB/9, had the third-lowest ERA (after a rough September which saw him put up a 4.24 ERA in 34 IP), had the third-lowest FIP, the lowest batting average against, the lowest WHIP (0.91, tied with the New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom), and he finished the year with the second-highest fWAR (7.2, behind deGrom, who finished at 8.8).
His chief competition (and the presumptive frontrunner) for the 2018 NL Cy Young award, deGrom, finished the 2018 campaign (10-9) over 32 starts with a 1.70 ERA, a 1.99 FIP, 46 walks (1.91 BB/9), 269 Ks (11.16 K/9), and a .194/.244/.277 line against in 217 IP.
New York’s ace finished the season with the National League’s lowest ERA among starters, lowest FIP, the second-highest K total and K/9, lowest HR/9 (0.41 to Scherzer’s 0.94 HR/9), third-lowest BAA, and the third-highest LOB% (82.0%).
deGrom also received the lowest average run support (3.53 RS) among NL starters, which has a lot to do with that low win total.
Scherzer received 5.27, in spite of the fact that there was a stretch of five outings in June in which he received eight runs total in two wins and three losses.
So who’s going to win the NL Cy Young this season? Will it be deGrom?
Will Scherzer win his third straight and fourth overall, becoming just the fifth pitcher in MLB history to win four?
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo was asked for his take on the race during his weekly visit with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last week. His answer will probably not surprise...
“If you’re asking me my opinion on the Cy Young,” Rizzo said, “I think Max is going to win his third straight, he’s earned it, he’s deserved it. He leads the league in everything but ERA. He beats deGrom in just about every category except for ERA. ERA is an important statistic, but so are innings pitched, so are starts, so is batting average against, so is OPS against.
“There are a lot of things that come into play. I understand that the win has lost its luster in the Cy Young voting, but let’s not condemn a guy for winning 18 games either. You know what I mean?
“Let’s give him a little credit for winning some games. I think a win is an important stat for a winner, it’s not the end-all and be-all, I understand that, it’s more of a team stat, but you look at the run-production that we’ve had for Max, and there was a five-game span there where we scored two or less runs in all five of his starts and he got [three] losses in there. Again, to me he’s the best pitcher in the game, he’s the guy that you want to face the least in the game, and if you’re going strictly by statistics, he’s No. 1 in just about every category that you can name, and I guess the one sexy ERA stat is the one everyone is talking about, but nine more wins, and two less losses, I get it there’s some team involvement in that, but at least let’s not penalize the guy for winning 18 games, you don’t have to celebrate it, but don’t penalize him for it.”
So, to be clear, Scherzer is his pick?
“I don’t have a vote,” Rizzo said, “but if I were a voting person, I would look at the stats, and you can blank out the names and look at the stats and say, ‘Which column would you take?’ And I would take the column with all the 1sts in it and one 3rd.”