Max Scherzer’s 38th birthday may have come and gone late last month, but his overwhelming brilliance on the hill continues to remain undimmed through the passing years.
In fact, what the three-time Cy Young Award winner is doing in his debut season with the New York Mets hasn’t been seen all that often in Major League Baseball over the last 110 seasons.
Scherzer was masterful once again on Saturday night in Queens, shutting down the dangerous Atlanta Braves in a 6-2 Mets win by going seven scoreless innings while allowing just four hits with 11 strikeouts and zero walks.
It lowered his 2022 season ERA to a superb 1.98 while his WHIP (walks, hits per inning pitched) to a minuscule 0.899.
“His consistency is unbelievable,” Mets slugger Pete Alonso said. “Every time he’s got the ball in his hand, he’s the same guy. He does a lot of research on his opponent and the way he executes, whether he has his A, B, or C stuff is incredible. He’s one of our leaders… Every time he has the ball, we’re feeling pretty confident.”
It’s just the third instance since 1913 for a pitcher to post a 2.00 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 100 strikeouts through his first 15 starts with a team since 1913 — joining a list that includes Justin Verlander between the 2017 and 2018 seasons with the Houston Astros and… himself, in 2015 with the Washington Nationals.
“Just focus, concentration. I know how it sounds… but he’s a great concentrator and he treated every hitter in the lineup with the same respect,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said about what sets Scherzer apart. “He has a plan, it may not always be perfect, but when he has command of his pitches and he can execute them, he’s a student of the game. He watches the game, he sees what’s going on… He has a good feel. He reads swings, he reads what guys are trying to do. He remembers the pitch sequence from last at-bat, the last at-bat 10 days ago. You don’t have to tell him. It’s fun to be around.
“We talk a lot about the players we acquire and one of the questions I ask is, do they make their teammates better? He does.”
Under such a belief, it’s not much of a coincidence that the Mets are playing some of the best baseball in their existence.
Entering Sunday’s five-game series finale against the Braves with a 5.5-game lead over them in the NL East, the Mets saw their record hit 30 games over .500 for the first time since the final day of the 2006 season.
That’s all one of the Mets’ aces is focused on. Not the numbers.
“This is what you play the game for,” Scherzer said. “You play to face the best, especially deep in the season. You grind it out here in the NL East. It’s great to get these wins, but it’s not over yet. We know how good they can play, and they can get hot, and we can continue to play great baseball as well.
“It’s great to win these games, don’t get me wrong. You want to beat them as much as you can. But it’s going to take that type of effort for the rest of the season.”