With seven scoreless on the mound against the Philadelphia Phillies last week (pitching with a black eye and broken nose), Max Scherzer extended an unbeaten streak to six starts in a row, over which the 34-year-old righty was (4-0) with a 0.88 ERA, eight walks, 59 Ks, and a .179/.230/.278 line against in 41 IP.
Scherzer’s manager, and just about anyone else who watched, was impressed with what he saw from the starter just 24 hours after he’d fouled a ball off of his own face trying to get a bunt down in batting practice.
“He went out there and did what he’s supposed to do,” Davey Martinez said.
“Like I said, he was prepared. Him and [catcher Kurt Suzuki], they got a game plan and they go out there and they attack the game plan and he was phenomenal.”
Scherzer threw 117 pitches in that outing, and his seven innings on the mound left him with the third-highest total innings pitched on the year (106 1⁄3) in the National League, and 12-straight starts of over 100 pitches, but before Tuesday night’s outing in Miami, Martinez said he was not at all concerned about the ace’s workload so far in the first half.
“He understands [himself],” Martinez explained, “and like I said we have conversations every day and he’s adamant about knowing what he can and can’t do and when he’s had enough, and as the game goes along, we talk a lot and he tells me whether this could be his last inning or this could be his — you know, he can get up to 110 [pitches], 115, so we make sure that we communicate well together every day.”
Max Scherzer, Back to Back 96mph Fastballs (1st is a called strike, goes back to pretty much exactly the same spot...2nd is a ball). Command/Strike Zones....— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 26, 2019
Little things amaze me. pic.twitter.com/oOJruPRUrl
Scherzer struck out six of the first 11 batters he faced in the series opener in Marlins Park, working around a single and HBP over three scoreless. He gave a run in the fourth, but needed just 16 pitches total in the fifth and sixth innings, leaving him at 68 total after six, with Ks from 8 of 23 Marlins’ hitters and just four hits allowed.
After adding his ninth K in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh, Scherzer reached 10 Ks for the 89th time in his career in the eighth, and got an inning-ending double play to erase a leadoff single in a 14-pitch frame that left him at 94 pitches total and ended his night in a 6-1 win.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 Ks, 94 P, 71 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
Scherzer got 17 swinging strikes and 17 called strikes overall, sat 95 with his fastball and was up to 98, but his manager said he really liked Scherzer’s cutter.
“He was really good today,” Martinez said.
“All his pitches were down, utilized the strike zone really well. His cutter, I told him today, his cutter was really, really good. So, he pitched — he’s Max. He attacked the strike zone and he pitched really well.”
Max Scherzer, 90mph Cutter, 96mph Fastball and 85mph Changeup, Overlay/Slow.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 26, 2019
Triangle of Death. pic.twitter.com/FH1EkmUNvn
In his last seven starts and 49 IP, Scherzer now has a 0.91 ERA (5 ER).
“He really has been pitching good,” Martinez added. “What I like right now is he’s — with two strikes, ahead in the count, he’s not messing around, he’s going after hitters, and I really love that, and that’s important because you see the pitch count down and that’s important right now.”
Scherzer talked after the outing about pitching in Marlins Park, before a crowd of just 7,327.
“You’ve got to come down here, and you might not have fans in the stands,” Scherzer said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“There’s no atmosphere here, but you’ve got to mentally bring it every single time. They know how to play in this atmosphere, and that’s what they’re really good at: grinding you away. It’s happened to me coming down here. I was fully aware of that, wanted to come down here and put together my A-game.”
It was the first start in his last 12 that Scherzer didn’t go over 100 pitches, which Martinez said was the plan going in, so he didn’t even consider sending the starter back out for the ninth.
“We wanted to keep him under 100 pitches today,” Martinez said. “If he would have had 94 in the seventh inning he probably would have been done as well.”