Max Scherzer, as he does every Spring, came into camp determined to improve on some things he identified as issues from last season.
He was asked about his expectations for 2019 early this year, when he arrived in West Palm Beach for the start of his 12th big league campaign.
“It’s always to get better,” Scherzer said, after a 2018 campaign which saw him finish second in Cy Young voting (after winning the NL version of the award in the previous two seasons), with a 2.53 ERA, a 2.65 FIP, 51 walks (2.08 BB/9), 300 Ks (12.24 K/9), and a .187/.247/.332 line against in 33 starts and 220 2⁄3 innings pitched.
“Get better every single year,” he continued. “Find weaknesses in your game and continue to improve them. And I’m not going to go into the exact details of what I’ve been dreaming up, but I’ve been definitely critiquing myself and I’ve been doing my homework to figure out what I want to do and come up with new ideas of what I want to execute on the mound, and this is fun, you get to try them first against your own hitters, and then you get to face — in Spring Training the rest of the league, so the next six weeks are an exciting time.”
Scherzer gave up a home run on a fastball in his first at bat of his 2019 Grapefruit League debut, and allowed three hits total and a walk in a two-inning, 44-pitch outing last week.
He said after the start that a little adversity was actually a good thing at this point in his preparation for the regular season.
“Today was actually good,” he explained after the appearance, “and the fact that you get some traffic out there, had to fight through some pitches, and you know the pitch count even got up there and have to pitch through some fatigue, that’s the stuff you have to do during the year.”
“You don’t want to go out there and be perfect,” the perfectionist said, “I mean, I know you do, but in Spring Training you don’t. You want to learn how to battle through some innings, because that’s what’s going to happen in the regular season, so in some ways I’m happy that I had to pitch out of the stretch and have to execute pitches in those situations.”
Scherzer makes his second start of the Spring this afternoon when the Nationals take on the Boston Red Sox in Ft. Myers, FL’s JetBlue Park at 1:05 PM EST in a game that’s on TV if you’re an MLB.tv subscriber via NESN.
#Nats at #RedSox at 1:05 PM EST: Victor Robles CF; Juan Soto LF; Kurt Suzuki C; Matt Adams 1B; Jake Noll 3B; Carter Kieboom SS; Wilmer Difo 2B; Hunter Jones RF; Pedro Severino DH; Max Scherzer RHP— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) February 28, 2019