Max Scherzer tossed another gem yesterday and didn’t even allow a hit until the 5th inning (not that that is anything out of the ordinary for him) and has now firmly positioned himself into the Cy Young conversation.
It’s time to address something that might have sounded crazy in April but: is Max Scherzer having another Cy Young season? Scherzer’s April was horrendous and his 4.60 ERA on May 10th was nothing to inspire any confidence in you. I was legitimately worried that Scherzer might not be that ace we came to expect this year. Then, on May 11th, everything clicked and Scherzer found his place in the history books with his 20 strikeout game. From that game on, Max has been nothing short of Cy Young-worthy. Scherzer’s ERA has been 2.22 and he has somehow managed to K 152 batters in only 113.2 innings, something that doesn’t even really seem possible. I understand a reliever doing it but Scherzer is pitching 7- 8- innings an outing and is still striking out almost half of all batters he gets out. Scherzer’s season K/9 is 2nd in the majors only to Jose Fernandez.
Even when you incorporate Scherzer’z ugly April, he is still 12th in baseball in ERA, leads all of baseball in innings pitched, and is just 2 strikeouts away from 200 (he also leads the league there). When it comes to wins, only his teammate, Stephen Strasburg, and Giants‘ starter Johnny Cueto have more in the NL and opponents have the 2nd lowest success rate against Scherzer (they hit only .190 off him) in the National League – only the injured Clayton Kershaw holds batters to a lower average.
Prior to Kershaw’s injury, the Cy was his for the taking but with the news that he just shifted to the 60-Day DL, I’m not sure he’ll pitch in enough games to take the crown. Madison Bumgarner is another great choice, and probably is the front-runner at this point in time but he has struggled a little since the break and just gave up 8 runs against the Philadelphia Phillies. His teammate, Johnny Cueto, is also in the conversation but I’d probably lean towards Scherzer over Cueto at this point in time. Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs has been great but hasn’t been dominant enough to win it and should regress a bit and Jake Arrieta, the reigning Cy Young, took a step back from his stellar 2015. Finally, I’m not sure how much team success factors into these awards any more but that could hopefully be a positive factor for Scherzer if he ends the season with similar numbers to the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez or the Mets‘ Noah Syndergaard or Jacob DeGrom.
The verdict is that Scherzer isn’t the Cy Young front-runner at this point in time – and he is probably behind Strasburg for best pitcher on the Nationals in 2016 – but if Max keeps doing what he is doing in August and September, he should certainly be a finalist for the award.
PS: On the offensive side of things, The Nats continue to roll – they just scored 32 runs in their 3 game series against the DBacks, had a 4 run 9th to give Mark Melancon an easy second outing (he still doesn’t have any saves and, with the way Murphy & Co are hitting, there might not be that many opportunities for him the rest of the season), and Trea Turner absolutely tore the cover off of a baseball for his first major league homer of the year.