Maxwell M. Scherzer
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 210 lb.
- School University of Missouri
- High School Parkway Central High School
- Debut April 29, 2008
Pitcher Max Scherzer was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 43rd round of the 2003 amateur draft, but opted for college. He was then selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Joe Robinson and made his pro debut in 2007 with the Visalia Oaks, where he went 2-0 with an 0.53 ERA before being promoted to the Mobile BayBears. With Mobile, he was 4-4 with a 3.91 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 14 starts. He began 2008 with the Tucson Sidewinders and notched a 1.17 ERA in 4 starts and struck out 38 batters in 23 innings. He was then called up by the Diamondbacks in late April and made his debut on April 29th against the Houston Astros, coming out of the bullpen to pitch 4 1/3 innings of perfect ball and strike out 7. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Scherzer's debut was the longest debut outing in "modern major-league history" by a pitcher who retired every batter he faced (13 batters). In the previous 50 years, Jimmy Key had the most with 10 batters. He was 0-4 but with a good 3.05 ERA in 16 games for the Diamondbacks as a rookie. In 2009, he spent the entire season in the starting rotation with correct results, going 9-11, 4.12 in 30 starts, and striking 174 batters in 170 1/3 innings.
Before the 2010 season, Max was sent to the Detroit Tigers in a three-team trade that also involved the New York Yankees and such current and future stars as Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson and Austin Jackson. He made 31 starts for the Tigers that season, improving to 12-11, 3.50, with 184 strikeouts. He had a better record with a worse ERA in 2011, finishing at 15-9 in spite of seeing his ERA increase to 4.43 in 33 starts. He was second on the team in wins behind ace Justin Verlander, although late-season acquisition Doug Fister, who pitched brilliantly after joining the team, was the number 2 starter when the postseason began after the Tigers claimed the first AL Central title in team history. He won Game 2 of the ALDS by shutting out the Yankees on two hits over 6 innings, his start having been moved forward when Game 1 was suspended by rain after only one inning, forcing both teams to use their number 2 starters when the game was resumed the next day. He pitched in relief in the deciding Game 5, relieving Fister at the start of the 6th inning with a 3-1 lead, and recording a scoreless inning, before giving up a run on a pair of hits on the 7th and turning the ball over to Joaquin Benoit. He started a pair of games in the ALCS against the Texas Rangers, but the Tigers lost both times, with Scherzer being charged with the loss in Game 6 after giving up 6 runs in 2 1/3 innings.
On May 20, 2012, Max set a personal record by striking out 15 members of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 7 innings in a 4 - 3 win. He was one shy of the Tigers team record, set by Mickey Lolich in 1969. He continued to rack up big strikeout numbers on the year, and on August 21st took over the major league lead for Ks, striking out 8 in a winning start over the Toronto Blue Jays to reach 186, 6 more than his teammate Verlander for the American League lead, and five more than R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets for the major league lead. He also had the highest K/9 rate by a starter in 10 years at that point of the season. On September 18th, however, he had to leave a start against the Oakland A's after only two innings, complaining of shoulder fatigue. He recovered in time for the postseason, ending the year at 16-7, 3.74, with 231 strikeouts in 187 2/3 innings. He finished second to Verlander for the AL strikeout crown, but had a better K/9 ratio than his teammate. He started Game 4 of the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics, getting a no-decision as he gave up an unearned run in 5 1/3 innings, striking out 8 while walking one. He then started and won Game 4 of the ALCS on October 18th, giving up one run in 5 2/3 innings while striking out 10 and giving up only 2 hits and 2 walks to the New York Yankees. The win completed a four-game sweep of the Yankees and sent Detroit to the 2012 World Series. He started Game 4 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants on October 28th, and allowed 3 runs in 6 1/3 innings before departing with the score tied, 3-3. The Tigers went on to lose, 4-3, in the 10th, completing a four-game sweep at the hands of the Giants.
Scherzer was outstanding at the start of the 2013 season. He was 3-0, 4.02 in April, with 46 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings, then won his first four decisions in May to stand at 7-0, 3.42 after 10 starts on May 26th. While his strikeout rate had gone down slightly in May, he was still at well over one per inning, with 81 in 68 1/3 innings, against only 18 walks. He was tied with Felix Hernandez for second in the AL in strikeouts, 10 behind Yu Darvish. On June 17th, he pitched 6 innings of one-hit ball to defeat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1, running his record on the year to 10-0. He was the first major league starter to start off with 10 wins since Roger Clemens had done so for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997, recording 11 straight to start the season, and the second in Tigers history after George Mullin had started the 1909 season with 11 straight wins (one in relief). He struck out 10 batters in that game, giving him at least 6 K's in each of his first 14 starts, something not seen in the American League since Pedro Martinez in 2001. He matched his two illustrious predecessors on June 22nd, when he defeated the Boston Red Sox, 10-3, to move to 11-0. He made it 12 straight with a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on June 28th and 13 when he beat the Blue Jays in his next start, on July 3rd. He once again was chasing Clemens, as Roger had also been the last to start a season with that many wins, when he began 1986 14-0. It was absolutely no surprise that he was named to the All-Star team for the first time, and indeed got to start the game for the AL, pitching a perfect 1st inning. He suffered his first loss in his last start before the Midsummer Classic, bowing to the Texas Rangers, 7-1, on July 13th. On July 27th, he became the first major league pitcher to reach 15 wins with a 10-0 blanking of the Philadelphia Phillies. When he defeated the Cleveland Indians, 10-3, on August 8th - the Tigers' 12th straight win - he became the first pitcher to start a season 17-1 since, once again, Roger Clemens, who had done so in 2001. By going to 18-1 with a 6-3 win over Kansas City on August 18th, he matched Don Newcombe (1955 Brooklyn Dodgers) and Elroy Face (1959 Pittsburgh Pirates) for the second-best record after 19 decisions; Hall of Famer Rube Marquard had started the year 19-0 for the 1912 New York Giants, for the only better mark ever. After winning his 19th game, Max was roughed up by the A's in his first attempt to become a 20-game winner on August 29th, allowing 6 runs in 5 innings, but was bailed out of a loss by a dramatic 9th-inning comeback by his teammates; in his second attempt on September 3rd, he pitched well but gave up a pair of 5th-inning runs to the Boston Red Sox while his opponent, Jon Lester was brilliant, and he ended up with a 2-1 loss, falling to 19-2 on the year. He lost his next start as well, 5-1 to Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox on September 9th. He finally won his 20th on his fifth try, on September 20th, defeating the White Sox, 12-5. He was the only pitcher in the major leagues that season to win 20 games, finishing at 20-6, 2.90 and was voted the winner of the the 2013 American League Cy Young Award. In the postseason, he won two games over the Oakland A's in the ALDS - one as a starter and one in relief, then was 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 13 1/3 innings in the ALCS, when Detroit bowed to the Boston Red Sox, who went on to win the 2013 World Series.
It took Max a few starts to get going in 2014, as he was 0-1, 2.70 after three outing, but he then turned on the gas, winning his next 6 starts, including three in which he did not give up any runs. He did become the first pitcher in Tigers history to record 7 or more strikeouts in each of his first 6 starts of a season, and his 1.83 ERA on May 16th was the best in the American League. On June 12th, he tossed the first complete game of his career when he defeated the Chicago White Sox, 4-0, with a three-hit shutout. This broke a record string of having made 178 starts from the start of his career without recording a complete game. He was the winner of the 2014 All-Star Game, after pitching a scoreless 5th inning with the score tied at 3-3, and then benefiting from the AL's two-run outburst in the bottom of the inning as they won, 5-3. On August 14th, he compiled a season-high 14 strikeouts in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, improving to 14-4 in the process, then became the first 15-game winner in the AL when he defeated the Minnesota Twins, 13-4, on August 24th. He finished the year with a record of 18-5, 3.15, with 252 strikeouts in 220 1/3 innings. He led the AL in wins for the second straight season and finished 5th in the voting for the Cy Young Award. However, he lost his only start of the postseason, Game 1 of the ALDS, when he was defeated 12-3 by the Baltimore Orioles. Most of the O's runs scored after he was removed from the game, but he still gave up 5 runs in 7 1/3 innings, setting the tone for the Tigers being swept.
Scherzer became a free agent after the 2014 season and was considered the prize catch of the off-season. Suited by a number of teams, he finally settled on the Washington Nationals on January 18, 2015. He signed a seven-year deal. At $210 million, the deal was the second largest ever for a pitcher - just behind the one signed by Clayton Kershaw in 2014 - but his signing bonus of $50 million set a new record. He quickly went about showing his domination over his new league, as he was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for May, when he went 5-1, 1.67, with 56 strikeouts in 43 innings. On June 14th, he recorded his second career complete game and shutout in a 4-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. It was truly a dominant performance, as he did not allow a baserunner until a bloop single by Carlos Gomez in the 7th. A walk to Scooter Gennett in the 8th was the only other blemish, as he finished with a one-hitter and set a nationals record with 16 strikeouts (it was still two shy of the franchise record of 18, set by Bill Gullickson when the team was still the Montreal Expos). On June 20th, he pitched a no-hitter, 6-0, over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came agonizingly close to a perfect game, as he retired the first 26 batters before hitting pinch-hitter Jose Tabata with a pitch, as with two strikes, Tabata appeared to lean into the pitch and ended up as the only baserunner. He then retired Josh Harrison on a fly ball to left to complete the gem. The back-to-back one-hitter and no-hitter made up the best two-start stretch by a major league pitcher since Johnny Vander Meer's consecutive no-hitters in 1938, although a case can be made that Max was even better, given Vander Meer had walked 8 batters in his second no-hitter (and 3 in the first). In his next start, on June 26th, he started off the game with with five perfect innings, then gave up a one-out double to Freddy Galvis in the 6th. In the process, he extended Washington's streak of consecutive scoreless innings by its starters to 48 1/3. Philadelphia scored a pair of runs in the 7th and 8th innings, but Scherzer came out on top with a 5-2 win. He was named the Pitcher of the Month again in June, in recognition of his record of 3-2, 2.33 and 45 strikeouts. He finished the season with a flourish by becoming the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1973 and only the fifth in history to throw two no-hitters in a season when he no-hit the New York Mets, 2-0, on October 3rd. He struck out 17 batters to increase his own Nationals teams record, including 9 in a row at one point; that also matched Ryan's record for most strikeouts in a no-hitter. Only an error by SS Yunel Escobar kept him from a perfect game and his game score of 104 was the highest since Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game in 1998.
On May 11, 2016, Max put his name in the record books again when he struck out 20 batters in a complete game 3-2 win over his former team, the Tigers. This tied the mark for a nine-inning game shared by Roger Clemens, Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson. He did not issue a single walk in the game and had a chance to break the record, but the last batter of the game, James McCann, grounded out. On June 13th, facing the major-league leading Chicago Cubs, he opened the game by striking out 9 of the first 10 batters he faced and had a perfect game into the 6th inning, ending up a 4-1 winner after giving up one run on two hits and striking out 11 in 7 innings. On October 2nd, the final day of the season, he won his 20th game of the year, 10-7 over the Miami Marlins, driving in a career-high four runs in the process. He finished at 20-7, 2.96, with a major-league leading 284 strikeouts in 228 1/3 innings, a record that led to his winning the NL Cy Young Award, making him the 6th pitcher to win the award in both leagues. Before that, though, his fine pitching had helped lead the Nationals to a division title, and he was scheduled to pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series. After the season, he revealed that beginning in late August, he felt discomfort because of a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, an injury that diminished his effectiveness and convinced to pass up an opportunity to pitch for Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He developed a new fastball grip to overcome the problem, using only three fingers instead of the usual four, with the ring finger on top of the ball and straight, thus alleviating any pressure on its knuckle.
Scherzer was back doing his usual thing with Washington in 2017: allowing a lot of homers, but overcoming this with a ton of strikeouts and a propensity to end up in the "W" column. On June 6th, he struck out 14 batters in a 2-1 win over the Dodgers to improve to 7-3 on the year, as the Nats built a huge early lead on their pursuers in the NL East. On June 11th, he recorded the 2,000th strikeout of his career, the victim being Nomar Mazara of the Texas Rangers. That made him the third fastest pitcher to reach the mark in terms of innings pitched, behind just Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson, and just ahead of Clayton Kershaw, who had recorded number 2,000 less than week earlier. It was another good start for Max, as he struck out 10 and left after 7 1/3 innings with the score tied at 1; unfortunately, his bullpen allowed the two inherited runners he left behind to score, and then let in two more runs after that, and he ended up with a 5-1 loss to show for his effort. On June 21st, he had another frustrating game, as he took a no-hit bid into the 8th inning against the Marlins until A.J. Ellis managed to turn a chopper to the mound into a hit, and the Marlins then scored a pair of unearned runs after 1B Adam Lind dropped a throw and a hit batsman loaded the bases. The runs came on a wild pitch and a single by Giancarlo Stanton and gave Miami a 2-1 win. He was named the NL's Pitcher of the Month for June on the strength of an ERA of 0.99 in 5 starts along with 51 strikeouts against only 6 walks in 36 1/3 innings. In spite of his dominance though, his record was only 3-2 during the month because of the two tough losses, but he did receive the fifth All-Star nod of his career and was also selected to be the game's starting pitcher. On July 21st, his propensity to give up home runs reached a pinnacle when he started off a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks by giving up consecutive home runs to the first three batters he faced, David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Jake Lamb. He was not involved in the decision however, as the D-Back won the game, 6-5, in the 9th. On [[August 1]¸st, he hit his first career homer, a three-run shot against Chris O'Grady of the Marlins in the 2nd inning. Then, warming up to take the mound with a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the inning, he asked to be removed from the game because of neck spasms; these were not the result of his impromptu slugging prowess, though, as he had woken up with a stiff neck a couple of days earlier and the problem became more bothersome as he pitched that day. On September 19th, he became only the fourth pitcher to record four straight seasons of 250+ strikeouts, after Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. He gave his team a scare in his final tune-up start before the postseason, on September 30th, when he was taken out in the 4th inning with a hamstring cramp. He ended the season at 16-6, 2.51, with 268 strikeouts, and after the season became a repeat winner of the NL Cy Young Award, his third time receiving the trophy. In the postseason, he was brilliant in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs on October 9th, not giving up a hit until one out in the 7th, but the Cubs managed to tie the game after he left and went on to win, 2-1. Then, in the decisive Game 5 on October 12th, he came on in relief in the 5th inning with Washington leading 4-3, but after two quick outs went through an absolutely nightmarish sequence of batters, allowing 4 runs on 3 hits, a walk and a hit batsman in a bizarre frame that also featured a batter reaching on catcher's interference, a dropped third strike and a throwing error. The Cubs eventually ended up winning the game, 9-8, as Max was saddled with the loss.
He was back to his old dominant ways early in the 2018 season. On April 9th, he pitched a two-hitter in defeating the Atlanta Braves, 2-0, and also recorded his first career stolen base. He claimed that the last time he had swiped a base, he was still in high school. He finished April with 4 wins, 57 strikeouts and a 1.52 ERA and was named the NL Pitcher of the Month, his fourth time winning the award. On May 6th, he picked up 15 strikeouts, including 7 in succession, in just 6 1/3 innings, the shortest outing to rack up that many K's. He had needed 111 pitches to get there, hence his inability to pitch further into the game. He also at one point recorded 12 consecutive outs via strikeout, with some baserunners squeezed in between. He left with a 1-0 lead but eventually had to settle for a no-decision as Washington won, 5-4, thanks to a 9th inning comeback. On May 19th, he recorded his 100th strikeout of the season in a start against the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a 13 K effort in another no-decision. He had needed just 63 innings to reach the mark , the fewest ever, beating out Kerry Wood who had recorded #100 in 65 2/3 innings in 2001. He repeated as Pitcher of the Month in May when he went 4-0, 2.21 in 6 starts, striking out 63 batters in 40 2/3 innings. On June 2nd, he made his mark with the bat, as he was used as a pinch-hitter in the top of the 14th inning for fellow pitcher Justin Miller and hit a one-out single, before coming in to score the go-ahead run on a triple by Wilmer Difo as the Nationals defeated the Atlanta Braves, 5-3. The hit improved his average to .310 on the year, as he was having his best year not just on the mound but also at the plate. He started the All-Star Game for the second straight year, this time in front of hometown fans at Nationals Park and on his birthday, July 27th, he became the first pitcher in the league to reach both 14 wins and 200 strikeouts as he defeated the Miami Marlins, 9-1. On September 25th, he recorded his 300th strikeout as he fanned 10 batters in another win over the Marlins. It was his first time reaching the mark, as he led the majors in the category; his 18 wins were also the top total in the NL. He finished the year at 18-7, 2.53 with an even 300 strikeouts, leading the league in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts and batters faced and tied for the lead in complete games and shutouts. He finished second behind Jacob deGrom in the Cy Young Award vote.
He was off to another good start in 2019 as he was leading the NL in strikeouts after 15 starts and had an excellent ERA of 2.81 even if his record was only 5-5, which was more a reflection of the Nationals' poor play and their wretched bullpen than of his own work. On June 18h, he was the victim of a freak accident, as while practicing bunts before a game, he accidentally fouled a ball off his nose, breaking it. Undaunted, he took the mound the very next day, with the broken nose and a prominent black eye, for a start against the Philadelphia Phillies and pitched 7 scoreless innings in a 2-0 win. He had a tremendous month of June, capped off by a 14-strikeout performance in 8 innings in his return to Detroit on June 30th, when he led the Nats to a 2-1 win over the Tigers. For the month, he had an ERA of 1.00 and 68 Ks! Unsurprisingly he won Pitcher of the Month honors in the NL and was also secured his seventh straight All-Star team nomination. He recorded his 200th strikeout on August 28th, giving him 8 straight years with 200+, the second longest such streak in major league history, trailing only Tom Seaver who had done it 9 straight years. It was his second start after missing a month due to a back strain.
He was the first pitcher of the 2020 Major League season, after a long delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, on July 23rd. Facing the New York Yankees at home, things did not go well though, as he allowed a single to Aaron Judge and then a long homer to Giancarlo Stanton in the 1st. He pitched a complete game as the contest ended after 5 1/3 innings, but was charged with the 4-1 loss. He did a lot better in his next start on July 29th, holding the Toronto Blue Jays scoreless through the first seven innings before running into some trouble in the 8th and was relieved by Daniel Hudson, who bailed him out by inducing an inning-ending double play. Unfortunately for him, his teammates had failed to provide him with much support, as the game was still scoreless when he left. He went 5-4, 3.74 in 12 games, with 92 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings. On April 16, 2021, he passed Cy Young on the all-time strikeout list with K #2,806.
Max Scherzer has a very distinctive follow-through when pitching; he will end his pitching motion with his head pointing directly at the ground, and his right foot high in the air. It is a very awkward position for fielding any grounders or line drives hit back at him, but it seems to give him additional velocity on his pitches. He worked on making his delivery less extreme during the 2012 season, to at least have his head facing the batter when he completes his follow-through. Another distinctive factor is that his eyes are of different colors: his right eye is blue and his left eye is brown.
- 7-time All-Star (2013-2019)
- 3-time Cy Young Award Winner (2013/AL, 2016/NL & 2017/NL)
- 4-time League Wins Leader (2013/AL, 2014/AL, 2016/NL & 2018/NL)
- AL Winning Percentage Leader (2013)
- 2-time NL Innings Pitched Leader (2016 & 2018)
- 3-time NL Strikeouts Leader (2016-2018)
- 3-time NL Complete Games Leader (2015, 2017 & 2018)
- 2-time NL Shutouts Leader (2015 & 2018)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 7 (2011-2014 & 2016-2018)
- 20 Wins Seasons: 2 (2013 & 2016)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 6 (2013-2018)
- 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 8 (2012-2019)
- 300 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2018)
- Won one World Series with the Washington Nationals in 2019
|AL Cy Young Award|
|David Price||Max Scherzer||Corey Kluber|
|NL Cy Young Award|
|Jake Arrieta||Max Scherzer||Max Scherzer|
|Max Scherzer||Max Scherzer||Jacob deGrom|
- Strikeouts, game (9 innings), 20, May 11, 2016 (tied)
- David Adler: "A new way to measure Scherzer's dominance", mlb.com, March 31, 2020. 
- Jamal Collier: "Scherzer takes home NL Cy Young Award: Nationals ace becomes sixth pitcher to win award in both leagues, mlb.com, November 16, 2016. 
- Jamal Collier: "Scherzer's first two Nationals years prove exceptional: 2016 NL Cy winner has turned in 2 no-hitters, 20-strikeout game", mlb.com, November 22, 2016. 
- Jamal Collier: "Sky's the limit? Scherzer meeting lofty goals", mlb.com, July 24, 2017. 
- Jamal Collier: "Scherzer's goal: 'Get better every single year': Coming off consecutive NL Cy Young Awards, Nats ace already starting offseason routine", mlb.com, December 16, 2017. 
- Jamal Collier: "Analysis: Is Scherzer Cooperstown bound? Ace building convincing case despite changing expectations for starting pitchers", mlb.com, January 23, 2018. 
- Jacob Emert: "Scherzer gets no-no! But perfect? No way, Jose: Displaying power and command, Nats righty had a day to remember", mlb.com, June 20, 2015. 
- Doug Miller: "15 for '15: Harper, Scherzer have storybook seasons", mlb.com, December 27, 2015. 
- Bob Nightengale: "In season gone wrong for Nationals, Max Scherzer still awes on mound", USA Today Sports, October 3, 2015. 
- Bob Nightengale: "All-Star start shows Max Scherzer is, right now, the game's best pitcher", USA Today Sports, July 10, 2017. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Max Scherzer: The Nationals' regret-free, $210 million bargain", USA Today Sports',, May 1, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "'Expect the unexpected': Nationals in awe of Max Scherzer's gutsy World Series performance days after injury", USA Today, October 31, 2019. 
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "Nationals' Max Scherzer voted NL Cy Young winner", USA Today Sports, November 16, 2016. 
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "Nationals’ Max Scherzer wins back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards", USA Today Sports, November 15, 2017. 
- Ben Walker (Associated Press): "The eyes have it: Scherzer embraces 2 different eye colors", USA Today, August 21 2019.