Drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1st Round (11th overall) in 2006, and traded to the Detroit Tigers in 2009, Max Scherzer acknowledged in advance of a start against the D-backs back in 2017, that there is always some personal motivation to do well when facing a club that has traded you.
“Any time you face your old team, you’re going to be excited to go out there and get them,” Scherzer told reporters, as quoted by ESPN’s Eddie Matz.
“But you have to find something that motivates you every single time. You can’t go out there and rely on ‘this is a former team and I’m going to take it to them.’
“You actually have to be motivated to win. Winning is the single greatest motivator of anything there is. Even though you want to win, you want to win against your former teams.”
In ten starts against the D-backs since he was traded, Scherzer, (who started the night on Friday with a 2.33 ERA, seven walks, 61 Ks, and a .179/.221/.352 line against in seven starts and 46 1⁄3 IP this season) was (7-0) with a 2.55 ERA, 16 walks, 95 strikeouts, and a stingy .174/.231/.355 line against in 67 IP against his former team.
“I think there’s definitely an edge, yeah” manager Davey Martinez said when asked about his starter’s success against his one-time team before last night’s game.
“But he understands, we talked about it, there’s so many new players on this team,” Martinez said, “... and some young guys that he hasn’t faced. So it’s always a challenge when you’ve got somebody new that steps up in the box that you’ve never faced, so he’s done his due diligence, he watched videos on some of these guys.
“We just had a meeting, so he’s well-prepared. But it’s definitely challenging.
“For him, he wants to go out there and he always talks about a complete game, and getting as many outs as he possibly can, and that’s what he’s going to do tonight.”
Scherzer held the D-backs hitless through three in the series opener in Chase Field, gave up leadoff and one-out singles in the fourth, and threw a 1-2-3 fifth which left him at 85 pitches overall on the night, and with the Nationals up 11-0 at that point, Martinez opted to go to the bullpen for Will Harris after five scoreless from his starter...
Max Scherzer’s Line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 85 P, 55 S, 1/4 GO/FO.
So, now (8-0) with a 2.38 ERA against the D-backs?
Scherzer was lifted after five because he apparently had, a “really bad”, in his words, sore throat, and the Nationals were up big. So is there still a little extra motivation to beat your old team? Even after all these years?
“You want to beat everybody,” he said, in a raspy, pained voice, “... so yeah it’s nice to do it against a former team, you always want to do that, but you want to win every single time, so it’s hard to say this one you want to win more than others.”
“He gave us what he had and I thought it was a perfect time to get him out of the game and give him a little blow,” Martinez explained when asked about the early hook..
“He’s been really, really good, and we want to keep him healthy.”
A relatively brief outing, when he’s sick, and when he’s thrown some long ones recently, is not a bad thing either.
“He’s been going 106, 110, 109, so to give him a quick, five-innings, 85 pitches of work, was good. It was a good day. We were able to score a lot of runs and get him out of there.”
Did all the early runs take some of the pressure off and allow Scherzer to attack hitters?
“First off, you can’t fall in the trap,” the three-time Cy Young winner said, “because a lot of times they’re trying to go get you a little bit quicker and you can give up a couple runs pretty cheap, pretty quick because you kind of let your guard down, so you’ve got to be really focused to go out there and really attack them in that situation.
“But it does afford you kind of some chances to be more aggressive and throw some other pitches that you might not throw, because you know if they did hit a homer, you’re not going to lose the ballgame because of it. So, that’s what makes it nice when you do get that type of run-support.”
As for pitching with a sore throat?
“Yeah, I just got a really, really bad sore throat. It just hurts to talk. I always knew you used your teeth to throw fastballs, I didn’t realize how much you use your throat,” Scherzer said.
“So it was kind of an adjustment to kind of get used to. Just couldn’t talk whatsoever. Still can’t really talk.”