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Where would Nats be without Max Scherzer?


Where would Nats be without Max Scherzer?

When the Nationals first signed Max Scherzer to a record free-agent deal in January, many of us - including yours truly - scratched their heads. The Nats already had by most accounts the deepest rotation in baseball and by some numbers, such as starters ERA, the best.

Where would Tanner Roark go? Was the move unnecessary? Am I taking crazy pills?

The Nationals had obvious needs, and signing Scherzer did not fill any of them.

But now, roughly a fifth of the way through the 2015 season, the signing of Scherzer doesn't only make sense, the current state of their rotation makes you wonder where they would be without him.

Doug Fister is out with a strained flexor muscle in his right forearm, an injury he suffered after a botched start time in San Diego. Stephen Strasburg is in the middle of the worst start of his six-year MLB career. Jordan Zimmermann has been uncharacteristically up-and-down. And Gio Gonzalez has a 4.25 ERA and a 1.535 WHIP.

Remove Scherzer's stats and the Nationals' rotation ERA is 4.65. Only three teams in the NL are currently worse: the Phillies, Brewers and Rockies.

Scherzer himself is now 4-3 with a 1.75 ERA, the best start to a season of his career. He has 66 strikeouts - tied for most in MLB - in 56 2/3 innings with only eight walks. His 2.04 FIP is so far the lowest in the National League.

Scherzer was dominant again in Saturday night's 4-1 win over the Padres in San Diego. He tossed seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts, four hits and two walks allowed. Scherzer has posted double-digit strikeouts in three of his last four outings and at least eight Ks in six of his eight starts this season. He has an 8.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which is more than twice as good as his career average.

Scherzer has gone at least seven innings in seven of his eight starts this season and in six consecutive appearances. His shortest start was six innings on April 12 and only once this year has he allowed more than two earned runs in a game. Only twice has he given up more than one.

A former Cy Young winner, Scherzer has stepped in and immediately become the clear ace of the Nationals' staff. The rest of their rotation has been inconsistent overall, even Fister who was their rock in 2014, and even Zimmemrann who has been one of the best pitchers in the NL for several years.

The question before this season was where the Nationals' rotation would rank among the best staffs in recent baseball history. Now it is fair to ask, where would they be without Max Scherzer?

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.