Max Scherzer’s bid for a third straight National League Cy Young ended with a second-place finish in this year’s voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Scherzer received just one first-place vote and 29 second-place votes.
New York Mets’ right-hander Jacob deGrom got the nod from the BBWAA voters, earning the award for the first time in his career with 29 first-place votes.
Scherzer, 34, went (18-7) in 33 outings in 2018, with a 2.53 ERA, a 2.65 FIP, 51 walks (2.08 BB/9), 300 strikeouts (12.24 K/9), and a .188/.247/.332 line against in 220 2⁄3 innings pitched, finishing the year ranked first among qualified NL starters in strikeouts, K/9, WHIP (0.91), opponent’s AVG, innings pitched, and hits allowed per nine innings (6.12 H/9).
He also finished second in the NL in opponents’ OBP, fWAR (7.2), and ended up third in ERA, ERA+ (168), opponents’ AVG with RISP (.153), and opponents’ OPS (.580) and SLG.
Did Scherzer’s rough September (4.24 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 2.13 BB/9, 11.61 K/9, .229/.281/.367) cost him in what was a tight race? Or did deGrom have it at that point anyway?
Overall, in spite of the fact that he didn’t win a third straight Cy Young it was another impressive season for the 11-year veteran.
Watching it all from the dugout was an enjoyable experience for the Nationals’ first-year skipper, Davey Martinez, who talked in an interview on the MLB Network earlier this week about his first season managing Washington’s ace, who won the last two NL Cy Young awards (2016-17), which were the second and third of his career.
“It’s fun to watch him,” Martinez said this past Monday.
“I know everybody sees him every five days, but I got to see him every day and what he does every day. He competes every single day.
“Even the days he doesn’t pitch, he’s trying to get better and he pushes himself.
“This guy takes appreciation of the whole game. He’s in the cage, he’s hitting, he’s bunting. I saw him take 150 swings in the cage one day.
“It was just really fun to sit down with him and talk about the game and listen to how he thinks. For me, he’s the best. He really is. And I loved being around him on a daily basis, and on the day he’s out there pitching, I just put my hat on and I sit and watch him do his thing.”
Scherzer, who routinely tells reporters he knows there’s still room for improvement in his game, talked after his final start of 2018 about what he did to improve this time around.
“I always try to get better every single year and I thought my curveball improved this year,” he explained at the end of the regular season. “Made a little tweak to it, and even though I didn’t quite throw it as much. I think it’s a pitch I can continue to develop and something I can continue to feature to help keep hitters off-balance and that’s a pitch that will continue to work for me as long as I can continue to execute and throw it the way that I’m capable of and use it within the sequence, so for me that was a focus coming into this year, was to improve that, seeing how good the curveball is kind of working throughout the game, is something that I think I was able to accomplish and I think that was the reason why I was better this year than I have been in the past.”
And he has been pretty good in the past. It wasn’t good enough this year, apparently, at least in the minds of the BBWAA voters, for Scherzer to win a third straight NL Cy Young.