Over the course of his five-start winless streak, which stretched from June 10th to July 2nd, Washington Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer put up a 2.73 ERA and a .178/.265/.322 line against in 33 innings.
In the four-start winning streak that followed, leading into last night’s outing, the 33-year-old righty put up a 2.89 ERA and a .223/.273/.417 line against in 28 innings.
He received seven runs total in support during the winless start streak, and 38 during the win-streak.
Scherzer was going up against the Cincinnati Reds Thursday night, after throwing six scoreless against Cincy, striking out 10, in his ‘18 debut back on March 30th in Great American Ball Park.
He struck out ten again in the series opener in the nation’s capital last night, but gave up two runs on a Eugenio Suarez homer in the fourth.
That’s all the Nationals’ ace allowed in a six-inning, 110-pitch outing in Nationals Park.
He also singled to drive in a run as part of the six-run second inning that blew things open, then moved Daniel Murphy into scoring position with a bunt in the third, before an RBI hit by Adam Eaton drove him in, and got another successful sac bunt down in the fifth in his final plate appeareance of the game.
On the season, Scherzer now has a .292/.333/.313 line with four sacrifices, a double, a walk, and a stolen base.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 110 P, 77 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
“He’s good,” his manager, Davey Martinez, stated matter of factly after the Nationals’ 10-4 win in the first of four with the Reds. “He competes. That’s who he is.
“He just goes out there and competes and gets outs. That’s what he does. What I love about him is he plays the whole game. He pays attention to everything. His at bats. His bunting. All of it. And he’s just a competitor.”
“He’s an all-around pretty dang good pitcher and same thing with hitter,” Bryce Harper told reporters (after he went 2 for 3 with two walks and two runs scored in the win).
“He works at it every single day and he’s down there in the cage swinging and grinding away and you’ve got to respect that because a lot of pitchers don’t go down there and work out and do the things they can to get better in there, so he does a great job for us right there, that’s a huge at bat in that nine-spot, so for him to be able to get on base and get guys over kind of changes the ballgame for us.”
He wasn’t at his best, but he still struck out ten, and he was pretty good on the mound last night too.
“I thought Max threw the crap out of it of course,” Harper added, “and he went out there and [threw] first pitch strikes, and got ahead and we were able to get some runs up there on the board for him and win the ballgame.”
“We knew coming in they were a difficult lineup to face and [Matt] Wieters really did a good job behind the plate of sequencing guys, so when you get that early run support, it’s great,” Scherzer said.
Asked about the fact that the rotation, as a whole, has been putting together better starts in the last week-plus, and whether it was coincidence or if there was something he could point to that was behind the recent turnaround, Scherzer said it was a little bit of everything.
“A touch coincidence,” he said, “and a touch guys are making changes and trying to find anything they can do to make themselves better. That’s the nature of the beast.
“Any time you’re not pitching at your best, you’re always searching for things to find a way to grab some traction and try to get better and that’s what guys have been doing, and really been picking up on the mound and really delivering quality start after quality start and when we can do that as a staff it just puts everybody in a better situation.
“Hitters can get their jobs done, they can score runs, and it just sets up our bullpen so well.
“The backbone of the team is always the starting staff and if we go out there and do our job it allows everybody else to show their strength.”
“They’ve been doing really well,” Martinez said of the rotation.
“Hey, our starting pitching did well in the beginning, and then had six or seven weeks where — and now they’re starting to throw the ball really well. Tanner [Roark] has done well. Max is Max. Gio [Gonzalez] has pitched really well. [Jeremy] Hellickson has done well, so I expect those guys to continue to do that, and even Tommy [Milone], Tommy has done really well since he’s been here, so things are starting to come together.”