Max Scherzer’s name will be listed on the scorecard for Friday’s game at Nationals Park, just like it was every five days for the six-and-a-half seasons he spent in D.C. This time, however, his name will appear under the visitor’s column as he faces his former club for the first time since being traded last summer.
His last appearance against the Nationals was all the way back on June 15, 2010 as a member of the Detroit Tigers. In the nearly 12 years since, Scherzer has won three Cy Young awards — two with Washington — led the NL in strikeouts three times, placed among the top 10 in MVP voting three times, recorded two no-hitters, put together a 20-strikeout game and appeared in a pair of World Series, helping lead the Nationals to their first title in franchise history in 2019.
Washington traded Scherzer along with shortstop Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers last July, marking an end to his Nationals tenure as the club shifted its goals toward developing younger players. The New York Mets then blew him away with a three-year, $144 million offer in free agency just before the MLB lockout and he landed back on the Nationals’ radar as an NL East foe they’ll likely have to face several times each season.
“It’s just going to be a crazy, wild atmosphere,” Scherzer told reporters Thursday in a video shared by SNY. “To be able to be a part of this, this was gonna happen at some point. It was weird when I had that Dodgers uniform on too. You get used to it, you get used to playing for another team and you go out there and just compete and have fun.
“A lot of good memories here. There always will be good memories here, but nothing lasts forever. As my baseball journey goes on, I’m here in New York and excited about what the future holds.”
Nationals fans got their first chance to recognize the accomplished right-hander Thursday, when the club played a tribute video on the scoreboard after announcing his name during Opening Day ceremonies.
“It was sad, but then again you thought about all the memories that we had together,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said of the tribute video after the game. “I’ll tell you what really stood out, the game he screamed at me in Cincinnati when I went out there to talk to him. We all started laughing, I told the story in the dugout.
“But those are moments that we’ll never forget and then the hugs and the punches in the chest and all that stuff, I’ll never forget that. He’s something special.”
When the game starts Friday, however, the nostalgic vibes aren’t going to linger for very long. Scherzer has a reputation for dominating his former teams and the Nationals understand what kind of competitor they’re going up against.
“We definitely have a lot of scouting reports on him but Max is Max,” Martinez said. “I’m not gonna sit here and say that ‘he ain’t good and we can—’ No. We understand that he’s really good. He’s one of the best, if not the best. So we got our work cut out for us tomorrow but, like I said, we got a lot of reports, we know what we want to do against him.”