Whenever we discuss the best pitchers of this generation, it starts with Clayton Kershaw and then transitions probably to Justin Verlander at #2. Now there's a lot of pitchers of the modern era that you could throw in there. Gerrit Cole is having another unbelievable season. Jacob deGrom, who I wrote a blog about several months ago declaring to be the best pitcher I've ever seen, is also in there. But when we're discussing an overall résumé, usually it goes Kershaw, Verlander, then everybody else. That shouldn't be the case because Max Scherzer belongs in that camp. Despite all the incredible accomplishments, Max Scherzer still feels somewhat undervalued. And it doesn't seem like he has plans of stopping any time soon.
Here's the truth, Max Scherzer is one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Max Scherzer has three Cy Young awards. Max Scherzer has led the league in wins four times. Max Scherzer has a 300 strikeout season. Max Scherzer has a career bWAR of 65.2. Max Scherzer has won a World Series and pitched well in the postseason. At the age of 37, Max Scherzer has better stuff and more stamina than almost any pitcher who is a decade younger than him at this point. And look, no one has ever said that Max Scherzer sucks, or the Max Scherzer is overrated, but when we talk about the best pitchers of this generation, Max Scherzer belongs in discussion with Kershaw and Verlander. He may even belong at the top of that list. Scherzer looks like a guy who could pitch another 4-5 years. And if that's the case, he'll far surpass Kershaw and Verlander in career WAR. Now, Max doesn't have an MVP, which Kershaw and Verlander have, but it's not like Max hasn't pitched well enough to do so. Scherzer in 2018 put up a higher bWAR than Kershaw did in his 2014 MVP season and was only 0.2 points lower in terms of WAR than Justin Verlander was in the year that he won the American League MVP in 2011.
I champion someone like a Scherzer or someone like an Adam Wainwright (who I wrote a piece about a few weeks ago) because I'm not just a fan of starting pitching, but I'm a fan of old fashion starting pitching. I'm a fan of seven innings a start. I'm a fan of 200+ innings a year. Now, as a fan of the game itself, I would be lying if I told you that the days of the 200+ innings-eater are slowly dying. The landscape of the game has changed, and that's nobody's fault. But it is also why I appreciate someone like Max Scherzer. It feels like he's one of the last in a dying breed of bulldogs, and he's far from finished.