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Washington Nationals’ Max Scherzer on once again reinventing himself for 2021 campaign

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What will Max Scherzer do in the final year of his 7-year/$210M deal in D.C.? Will 2021 be his last season with the Nationals?

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New York Mets v Washington Nationals - Game One Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Max Scherzer talked after his final outing of the 60-game 2020 COVID campaign about how he would approach his offseason this winter after making 12 starts, and throwing just 67 13 innings, in the sixth year of his 7-year/$210M deal with the Washington Nationals.

Scherzer, 36, put up a 3.74 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 23 walks (3.07 BB/9), 92 strikeouts (12.30 K/9), and a .260/.319/.424 line against on the year.

“With the shortened season, when you have an innings-deficit like this, going into next year, you want to do everything you can do to be healthy,” Scherzer said.

“And so I’ll just be in my normal offseason program. I’m not going to do anything crazy, and just take a couple months off from all the hard workouts, but just keep my arm in shape and just treat it like a normal offseason.”

“I’m glad he finished up strong and he feels good about himself going into the winter,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after Scherzer improved to (5-4) on the season with a win over the NY Mets in his final outing, “... and now he gets to rest for a little bit and then get after it and get ready for 2021.”

Heading into his offseason work, Scherzer, said, he wanted to look back on his 2020 starts and, obviously, assess what was and wasn’t working on the mound.

“I’m going to have to go through the offseason and really try to evaluate — and look at these at bats — of how guys are approaching me, how they’re attacking me, what’s working, what’s not in certain situations, so that next year, when I come back I can pitch more efficiently from the get-go and not have to try to wait till my 12th start before I finally feel good,” he explained.

“That’s always the challenge every single year, but that’s the fun part of this, that you have to go back and reinvent yourself, because the rest of the league is going to be finding ways to attack me, to be able to do everything they can to beat me, so you’ve got to match that type of mentality back at them.”

Asked what, specifically, he saw opposing hitters doing in terms of their approach to him in the truncated campaign, Scherzer said he was going to keep those thoughts to himself.

“Those are things I don’t like to talk publicly about. I’m not going to reveal my secrets of everything that I see and do about how different hitters are hitting,” the three-time Cy Young award-winner said.

“A lot of it is just trying to not necessarily be in the scouting reporters, per se, but your instincts when you’re in the game.

“When you see a certain type of swing, a certain type of foul ball ... what’s your next pitch in that next situation.

“I had some learning experiences this year where there was times I felt like my sequence was off, where something was happening and I was throwing the wrong pitch because of the previous pitch, and so I think if I identify more of those things and understand how my stuff is playing now I can avoid some of those longer at bats and home runs.”

Scherzer’s 3.07 BB/9 in 2020 were the highest he’s posted since his third season in the big leagues back in 2010, and his 1.34 HR/9 (10 in 67 1⁄3 IP) was the highest HR/9 he’s had in his career, tied with the 1.34 HR/9 he gave up in 2010.

Martinez said he knew the Nationals’ ace would attack his offseason workouts as he always does, even as he approaches his 37th birthday (next July).

“Max, is just Max, he’s an unbelievable competitor,” the manager said.

“Yesterday he came in after the game and said, ‘I don’t want the season to be over. I want to play another 100 games.’ And I told him, ‘Well, unfortunately, you better save that for 2021.

“‘Cause it’s done and I want you to rest.’ It’s been trying times for us. So just take this extra month and rest and get ready for 2021, and let’s go get to them playoffs, and win another championship.”

Scherzer’s entering the final year of his seven-year deal in D.C. Do you expect the Nationals to try to extend the future Hall of Famer so he finishes out his career in the nation’s capital?

It doesn’t seem like Scherzer is going to hang them up any time soon, should GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office extend the relationship?