Veteran showdown between Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright coming in NLCS Game 2


The combined totals represent their mutual laboring: 26 years in Major League Baseball, 672 regular-season starts, 40 postseason appearances, 4,584 ⅔ total innings pitched, 72,979 total pitches thrown.

Max Scherzer, 35, and Adam Wainwright, 38, will start Game 2 of the National League Division Series between Washington and St. Louis.

Frontiersmen think these two are grizzled. They admire each other, as high-end, manic competitors often do. Scherzer will be pitching with a 1-0 series lead because of Aníbal Sánchez’s Friday night mastery. Wainwright will work behind his curveball while trying to pull up the Cardinals once again.

“It's awesome watching him from afar,” Scherzer told reporters Friday. “I just know how much of a competitor he is and that's what he goes out there and does, he tries to find a way to win in every single way he can. I pitched against him in spring trainings here and in games and obviously in September, and you just know he's going to bring everything he's got. “Nothing will be different facing him [Saturday]. That's what makes this game fun is facing these great guys who can go out there and compete and lay it on the line like that, and he's obviously one of them. He's done it in the postseason and he's been a postseason ace.”

Wainwright has been more effective in the postseason. His 2.79 ERA stands almost a run better than Scherzer’s 3.60, which has been lowered this postseason thanks to a relief appearance and seven innings of one-run pitching. But, the two are splitting on their career arcs as they age. Wainwright last controlled the league in 2014, when he was 32.

Scherzer could well end up a Cy Young finalist yet again this season. Wainwright’s age didn’t stall his effectiveness to start the postseason. He didn’t allow a run in 7 ⅔ innings against Atlanta in Game 3 of the NLDS while throwing 120 pitches. Wainwright threw 57 curveballs in the outing.

“I like going into the game with some sort of preconceived idea that somebody's betting against me or favoring the other side or some of that,” Wainwright told reporters. “That pumps me up, I've always done that, I've always used that. But certainly any time you're competing against a guy like that you know you got to put zeros up. Our offense is very dynamic, there's a lot of people that can do some cool things, but a pitcher like Max is capable of going out and shutting anybody out. So from my point of view, I'm not so much pitching against Max except for once or twice, maybe three times through the order, as I am pitching against those hitters. I got to get those guys out, get zeros up.”

Sánchez combined with Sean Doolittle to stifle the Cardinals on Friday in a combined one-hitter.

St. Louis was 11th in OPS in the National League during the regular season.

If there is one section of its team not in line with the others, it’s the offense. Its pitching, defense and baserunning are among the best in the league. They have to deal with Scherzer on Saturday and Stephen Strasburg in Game 3.

Beforehand, Wainwright can’t wait to tangle with Scherzer in an effort to level the series.

“Competing against him is like Christmas for me,” Wainwright said. “He's one of the best competitors out there, one of the greatest pitchers of our generation for sure. I think he's probably going to be a Hall of Famer, and it's just a privilege to get to compete against him.”