Can a pitcher who’s won three Cy Young awards be overlooked and under-appreciated?
One can make the argument that Max Scherzer is and has been for a number of years.
If asked who is the best hurler currently working in the big leagues, the vast majority of baseball writers, broadcasters and fans would say the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.
And they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong based on what he’s accomplished in his storied career that also includes three Cy Young trophies and a National League Most Valuable Player award.
No doubt Kershaw is top-notch and will enter the Hall of Fame five years after he retires, but right now, Scherzer may be better based on the numbers and the fact Kershaw has spent considerable time on the disabled list which has cut into his starts and wins.
This season Scherzer has a 16-6 mark with 244 strikeouts and a 2.13 earned-run average, but Washington is having a tough go of it.
One of the favorites to capture the NL East, the Nationals are mired in third place at 65-66, eight and a half games behind the Atlanta Braves (73-57).
The only way Washington is going to make the playoffs is via the wildcard and this is a longshot.
Still, what Scherzer has done is nothing short of remarkable and it’s important to note starting pitchers work every fifth day.
Scherzer went 21-3 with 240 strikeouts while posting a 2.90 ERA in 2013 with the Detroit Tigers and 20-7 with a career-best 284 strikeouts and a 2.96 ERA in 2016 with the Nationals, each earning him a Cy Young.
Scherzer’s won-loss record is 157-81 with a 3.20 ERA and 2,393 strikeouts in nearly 2,100 innings.
In many respects, Scherzer, who came up with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008 after being picked 11th overall in the 2006 draft, is a throwback when starting pitchers went the distance.
Five times Scherzer, a six-time All-Star, has worked 200 innings or more with a best of 228 and two-thirds in 2015 when he went 14-12 with a 2.79 ERA and 276 strikeouts.
Beginning in 2012 and running through this season, Scherzer, who has also thrown two no-hitters, has fanned 200 or more and has led the league three consecutive seasons, including this campaign.
Ultimately players are judged on how well the team has fared and so far the Nationals haven’t played well.
This is simply another reason why Scherzer has often been overlooked and is under-appreciated.
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.