JUPITER, Fla. -- So much of Max Scherzer’s night proceeded in regular fashion Friday. He ran across the warning track, did side bends then flapped his arms for an initial body heating. Scherzer walked onto the bullpen mound up the first base line, threw off-speed pitches, used a moderate curse when displeased with the action. Normal.
He waded through dugout high-fives a couple hours later after seven innings, 10 hits, 12 strikeouts and 97 pitches, 73 of which were strikes. Scherzer peaked when throwing a 94 mph fastball late in his final spring training appearance.
“[Friday] was good, especially there in the seventh,” Scherzer said. “Wanted to get to 100 pitches that was the goal [Friday]. There in the sixth, it was a long inning, kind of had to go back out there, re-warmup, and finish the seventh. That’s kind of what I was measuring this outing on: how did I pitch in the sixth and seventh inning and how I was executing pitches.”
He wasn’t concerned about the hit total or amped about strikeout pile. A few small reminders -- most notably his changeup to left-handed hitters -- hinted further sharpening could be done. But, six days before Opening Day, Scherzer is primed as expected.
Scherzer is entering his age-34 season, his fifth year in Washington and showing no signs of regression. If Friday was his last day on a mound, he would have a shot to enter the Hall of Fame anyway. Here’s where he stands among multiple standards from Baseball Reference:
The essential point is to measure how often a player led the league in a variety of "important" stats.
Scherzer 51, Average HOFer around 50
Essentially the same as the Black Ink above, but it counts appearances in the top 10 of the league.
Scherzer 158, average HOFer around 185
Hall of Fame monitor
It attempts to assess how likely (not how deserving) an active player is to make the Hall of Fame.
Scherzer 138, likely HOFer around 100
Hall of Fame standards
It is used to measure the overall quality of a player's career as opposed to singular brilliance (peak value).
Scherzer 44, average HOFer around 50
Scherzer’s journey through 2019 will lead him to larger statistical piles and more narrow company. He’s already one of three pitchers all-time to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues and have a 300-strikeout season.
He’s sixth in active WAR among pitchers, trailing former teammate Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels. He should leap Hamels this season. He’s 89th all-time in WAR among pitchers. Another 10-WAR season would vault him to 47th. Scherzer is 41st in career strikeouts. Another 282 this season -- his average since arriving in Washington -- would push him to 23rd. Suddenly, his Hall of Fame entrance becomes inevitable with those markers behind him.
He would still have two more years under contract to supplement his totals.
Scherzer is more worried about the Mets than milestones. Everything he did since arriving at spring training Jan. 1 geared him toward March 28 at 1:05 p.m. inside Nationals Park, when New York comes to the District and reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom opposes him.
“Everything looks good,” Scherzer said. “Ready for the season.”
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