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Nationals roster review: Max Scherzer


Nationals roster review: Max Scherzer

Age on Opening Day 2016: 31

How acquired: Free agent, Jan. 2015

MLB service time: 7 years, 79 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $17,142,857 million

Contract status: Signed for $15 million in 2016, $15 million in 2017, $15 million in 2018, $35 million in 2019, $35 million in 2020, $35 million in 2021. (Salaries from 2019-21 will be deferred, with Scherzer paid $15 million per year from 2022-28, but he will receive $15 million signing bonuses each year from 2019-22.)

2015 stats: 33 GS, 228.2 IP, 176 H, 74 R, 71 ER, 27 HR, 34 BB, 276 K, 0.918 WHIP, 14-12, 2.79 ERA, 2.77 FIP, 7.1 WAR

Quotable: "I do think I was a better pitcher in 2015 than I was in '14. I feel like I'm able to do more things with the baseball, sequence guys different. I just feel like all my pitches are better. But I still have room for improvement. I gave up a bunch of home runs there in the second half, and that's something I've got to improve upon in 2016. So I definitely have some things to work on myself. And that's what's exciting about baseball. You're always getting better. You're always finding new ways to do stuff. And that's what's exciting for next year." — Max Scherzer

2015 analysis: The Nationals stunned everyone by signing Scherzer to a record $210 million deal in late January, adding a Cy Young Award winner to what already looked like a complete and dominant rotation. And that only added a tremendous amount of pressure on the right-hander to live up to that contract and prove his addition to this rotation actually was necessary.

Well, Scherzer lived up to it in his first year in Washington. He became only the sixth pitcher in history to throw two no-hitters in the same season. And when you throw in his 1-hit, 16-strikeout shutout of the Brewers, he's the first pitcher in history to earn a "Game Score" of at least 97 in three separate, 9-inning starts. He established a new club record with 276 strikeouts, and he joined Pedro Martinez (2000) and Curt Schilling (2002) as the only pitchers ever to strike out that many batters in a season while issuing 34 or fewer walks.

That said, Scherzer also endured through a significant late-summer slump. Over a stretch of nine starts, he posted a 5.54 ERA, serving up 14 homers in only 52 innings. It's a testament to his near-perfection the rest of the season that his final numbers remained so impressive in spite of that down period.

2016 outlook: It's safe to say Scherzer has firmly established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. Over the last four seasons, he ranks ninth in the majors in ERA (3.12), fifth in WHIP (1.076), seventh in innings (851), first in wins (69) and second in strikeouts (999).

How long can he sustain that? There lies the $210 million question. It's perfect fair to expect Scherzer to put together another elite season with an ERA in the high-2.00s or low-3.00s, more than 200 strikeouts and more than 200 innings. But he's 31 years old now, and so there will always be concerns about how his body and his arm hold up as he ages.

This much we do know: Scherzer is a perfectionist, as evidenced by the above quote (which came minutes after his second no-hitter). He is as studious a pitcher as there is in the game today, always analyzing his performance and thinking of ways he can improve. If there's anybody out there right now who has the ability to adjust as he matures, Scherzer is high on the list.

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Turner, Adams power Nats over Giants to end 4-game skid

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Turner, Adams power Nats over Giants to end 4-game skid

SAN FRANCISCO -- Trea Turner got five hits, Matt Adams homered and drove in six runs, and the Washington Nationals broke out of their offensive funk in a big way, routing the San Francisco Giants 15-2 Wednesday to end a four-game losing streak.

The Nationals had totaled just eight runs during their skid. Andrew Stevenson had two doubles, two singles and four RBIs as Washington set season highs for runs and hits (18).

Manager Dave Martinez's ballclub has been stunted by a rash of injuries this season but salvaged the final game of the three-game series at AT&T Park series to end a rough 4-5 road trip. Max Scherzer (5-1) did his part, striking out 10 in six innings.

Turner came into the game batting .232, and the leadoff man's slow start had contributed to the Nationals' struggles. He raised his batting average 35 points, tying a career high for hits in a game. He also scored twice, drove in two runs and stole his 10th base this season.

Adams matched his career best for RBIs. He singled as part of a three-run first, put the Nationals up 6-1 with a three-run homer off Jeff Samardzija (1-1) in the fourth and added a two-run single in the eighth.

The Nationals scored 14 of their 15 runs with two outs.

Scherzer earned his fourth consecutive win, all of them coming after a Washington loss. He allowed two runs and five hits, and reached double figures in strikeouts for the fourth time in six starts this season.

Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval each two hits apiece for the Giants.

Samardzija labored through a 30-pitch first inning and was done after retiring 11 batters. He gave up six runs on eight hits with three walks.


Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman and 2B Howie Kendrick were given the day off.

Giants: Mac Williamson was a late scratch because of neck stiffness, one day after stumbling over the bullpen pitching mound and crashing into a low fence while chasing a foul ball. ... RHP Chris Stratton was placed on the paternity list. ... RHP Roberto Gomez was called up from Triple-A Sacramento.


Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-2, 2.97 ERA) pitches against the Diamondbacks on Friday in Washington. He has yielded six earned runs and three homers over his last 13 innings.

Giants: LHP Derek Holland (0-3, 4.98) faces the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of a four-game series at AT&T Park on Friday night. Holland is winless in two career starts against the Dodgers.

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Williamson homers again, Giants top Nationals 4-3


Williamson homers again, Giants top Nationals 4-3

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mac Williamson had to dust himself off after crashing into a low padded wall near the stands in left field while chasing a foul ball.

More frustrated than hurt, Williamson took it out on Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark a few moments later after undergoing a series of concussion tests in the dugout.

Williamson homered for the second straight night and third in five games, hitting a tiebreaking shot in the sixth inning to lead San Francisco to a 4-3 victory over Washington on Tuesday night.

"I got pretty lucky," Williamson said. "I felt fine then and I feel fine now. I'm sure once the adrenalin wears off later tonight, tomorrow we'll see how the body feels. I'm sure I'll be a little sore."

Brandon Belt hit his fifth home run in six games, Joe Panik added three hits and scored twice, and the Giants won their third straight and fourth in the last five.

One night after hitting a 464-foot homer in the series opener, Williamson hit a first-pitch solo shot to center off Roark with two outs in the sixth inning that bounced off the top of the wall and broke a 3-all tie. It wasn't as far as Monday's clout -- this one went 423 feet -- but was just as pivotal for the Giants.

"We've talked about what a shot in the arm he's been and he's more than that," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He came through again tonight. Good for him because he's worked hard at it."

Williamson's deciding home run came one inning after he stumbled over the bullpen mound in foul territory and crashed into a low wall near the stands while trying to chase down Bryce Harper's foul ball. Williamson stayed down briefly as team trainers rushed out before getting to his feet.

"I tried to roll my neck a little bit and my head down a little bit when I started going down," Williamson said. "I think that helped break my fall. I was just a little frustrated I didn't come up with the play. I had it in my glove and it came out."

Belt hit a two-run shot off Roark (1-2) in the third.

Michael Taylor had a three-run homer for Washington, which has lost four straight and 14 of 20 since opening the season 4-0.

"It seems like that sixth inning's been biting us in the rear as of late," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We're swinging the bats. We just can't get the big hit with people on base."

Reyes Moronta (1-0) retired six batters for his first career win. Sam Dyson pitched one inning and Hunter Strickland worked the ninth for his fifth save.

The Giants got a run off Roark in the first but left the bases loaded when Evan Longoria struck out looking to end the inning. Belt homered on a 3-2 pitch from Roark in the second to make it 3-0.

Washington tied it on Taylor's three-run homer off starter Ty Blach in the third. Ryan Zimmerman walked and Moises Sierra singled before Taylor's deep drive into the right-field stands.

Roark went into the game 6-0 in seven career games against San Francisco but couldn't find a rhythm this time. He allowed four runs on six hits, walked two and hit a batter and threw a pair of wild pitches.


Panik hit a soft comebacker to Roark in the fifth that glanced off the pitcher's glove then bounced up on the top of his cap before falling to the turf. Roark initially couldn't locate the ball but found it in time to throw to first for the out.


Blach allowed three runs and four hits in five innings. After the game, Bochy said the left-hander suffered from food poisoning last week and was given an IV on Monday. "That was a really gutty effort that he gave us," Bochy said.


Nationals: Placed RHP Shawn Kelley on the 10-disabled list with ulnar nerve irritation in his right elbow. Infielder/outfielder Matt Reynolds was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse and outfielder Rafael Bautista and infielder Adrian Sanchez were called up.


Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (4-1, 1.36 ERA) and Giants RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 0.00) take to the mound for the series finale at AT&T Park on Wednesday. Samardzija is making his second start after beginning the season on the disabled list.