Player Preview: Max Scherzer
It's hard to call Max Scherzer's first year with the Washington Nationals anything but a success. He was dominant at times, was the workhorse of the rotation, had the best ERA, and the best strikeout to walk ratio in the NL. There is however a small part of the Nats second half collapse that can be placed at the feet of Max Scherzer. A very small part, mind you, but still a part, and it's called the month of August where Scherzer made five starts and pitched to a 6.43 ERA.
This was when the Nationals needed Scherzer the most. They entered August with a lead in the division and not too far into the month it had not only completely evaporated but had become a deep hole. It is hard to lay too much blame on Max Scherzer as of the things that went wrong in the 2015 season he was not one of them, but he was a culprit in April. The Nats signed him to be the Ace they no longer believed Strasburg or Zimmermann could be and Scherzer's bad month was brutal and poorly timed.
Scherzer never got called on it though. He did the mean thing for sports radio host and newspaper columnist and waited until August to be truly poor. If he had done it in April like Strasburg we could've had radio discussions and columns galore on how terrible the Scherzer contract was and how he wasn't a true Ace. Instead Scherzer had a fantastic first half and his bad month of August was all but forgotten, the 6.43 ERA buried between two no hitters and the dominance of all other months of the season.
A season for a baseball player is more about the totality than small chunks. Max Scherzer was a missing ingredient for the Washington Nationals but the cook got the flu, all the pots broke, and every other ingredient was devoured by rats. Maz Scherzer and Bryce Harper were the bright spots of the 2015 season and they were it for the Washington Nationals. If the Nationals hope to have success in 2016 then Max Scherzer has to be just as good and the rest of the rotation better. Asking one pitcher out of five or six or seven to carry the weight of an entire rotation and single-handedly lead a team to a division crown are expectations no one can live up to. The question is now can Max Scherzer repeat his 2015.
Of course he can. That is a stupid question. Max Scherzer has now had three great seasons in a row and is not yet out of his prime. The question isn't can Max Scherzer repeat 2015 it's will he and will the offense provide enough run support and will the bullpen not blow half his starts. Those are the real questions. Of the things the Nationals can count on for 2016 one of them should be that Max Scherzer will be an entertaining and dominant starting pitcher. Will the rest of the team follow or will they wither and die like 2015?