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Scherzer on what has been plaguing him and how to fix it

Scherzer on what has been plaguing him and how to fix it

Like most MLB teams, the Nationals entered the 2016 season with questions in their pitching staff. Max Scherzer, though, was not one of them.

The former Cy Young-winner and three-time All-Star is off to an unexpectedly bad start this season. He has a 4.35 ERA through five outings, which stands far above his Nats rotation-mates. On Tuesday night he allowed three runs on seven hits and four walks to the Philadelphia Phillies.

"You go through funks and right now this is a funk," he said. "I walked four guys tonight. That's just unacceptable."

Scherzer again found trouble in the first inning, as he has been prone to do, this time allowing a two-run homer to Andres Blanco. Eight of the 15 earned runs Scherzer has allowed this season have come in the first. He has a 14.40 ERA in the first inning and a 2.42 ERA in the others.

"I understand that I've given up a few runs here now in the first inning. That was something that I understand had happened in the past few starts. I even came out focused tonight trying to make something different. Six pitches in there was a home run. As much attention that I did have to it, right now it's just happening. If you do start thinking about it, then it's going to happen. You just have to trust your stuff," he said.

Scherzer believes he knows what is plaguing him and that is his fastball command. 

"I just don't have great fastball location. My fastball's in a little bit of a funk right now. I know it, and I kind of know what I need to do. I'm just not getting extension through that pitch and I feel like that's the reason why I'm missing on command, why I'm throwing balls in certain situations where I'm typically throwing strikes. That's where it's just a minor adjustment of getting extension through the pitch. That allows me to attack the zone at the rate I'm usually capable of. I just need to make that adjustment so I can go out there and pitch to my abilities so that I can keep being efficient."

The good news is that Scherzer has recovered from rough Aprils like this before. He has allowed 15 earned runs through five outings this season, which is similar to the 14 he surrendered in five April starts in 2013, for example. That year he won the AL Cy Young award.

Scherzer also believes the rest of his repertoire is about where it should be.

"On the flip side, the off-speed pitches were there. Everything is not broke. This isn't a time where you just beat everything around and throw your glove around. The pitches are there. It's just a little fine tuning. That's the difference between dominance and being average at this level. It can be that fine of a difference," he said.

Now, for the bad news. The road ahead will not get any easier for Scherzer as he tries to tweak his mechanics and find better results. His next four starts are against the Cardinals, Cubs, Tigers and Mets. That's a brutal stretch, and one where Scherzer is really going to have to dig down deep to pull himself out of his current slump.

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Another quote worth passing along from Scherzer was him on Blanco calling timeouts during his at-bats. Scherzer has spoken at length about holding runners at first in part by delaying his pitches. He holds the ball in his glove longer than usual before pitching to throw off the timing of a basestealer and tire them out with pickoff attempts. 

Scherzer was asked about the timeouts and had this to say:

"That's on him. I'm going to hold the ball. I know how to shut down the running game. [Odubel] Herrera's a good runner. He can steal a base at will. I'll hold the ball. I don't get frustrated when the hitter calls time. He can call time all he wants. I don't get frustrated by that. I understand he probably doesn't want to sit there. If he calls time, that's on him. It's up to the umpire."

[RELATED: Scherzer struggles again as Nats fall to Phillies]

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE