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Max Scherzer (1984-), Washington Nationals Ace and Three-Time Cy Young Award Winner


DonRocks
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IS IT ON THE INTERNET?

ESPN just cut to the game. The hitter *leaned into* that pitch with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. That was *not right*.

YES! NO HITTER!

Okay, Johnny Vander Meer is the only pitcher ever to pitch back-to-back no hitters. Was *this* a better two-game performance?

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Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals pitcher. No hitter today. More than that. It's two consecutive games he has taken a perfect game (no walks,no errors, no opponent on base -- very rare) so late into the game. Today he was ONE out away from a perfect game. Pirates batter was hit by a pitch and got to his base.

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In any other situation, the ump probably would have issued a called third strike for leaning into the pitch. But he was screwed - if he called it, that perfect game would forever have had an asterisk next to it.

Oh, also, part of me says that's what Scherzer gets for shaking off the sign on that last pitch!

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In any other situation, the ump probably would have issued a called third strike for leaning into the pitch. But he was screwed - if he called it, that perfect game would forever have had an asterisk next to it.

Oh, also, part of me says that's what Scherzer gets for shaking off the sign on that last pitch!

I see what you're saying here, but Scherzer was palpably nervous. I "felt" that something bad (if you can call this bad) was going to happen, based on how nervous he looked. I don't think he shook off that sign because he was feeling cocky; I think he shook off that sign because he was scared as hell, and there was only one pitch he felt comfortable throwing. I could easily be wrong here, as not one single person has mentioned this that I'm aware of, but that was my impression as it was happening ... maybe it's because *I* was palpably nervous.

I also agree with what you say about the umpire, although I'm not convinced he had time to analyze the situation. I think the batter showed a lack of honor, and thought so the moment it happened; others think that the batter was just doing his job, not wanting to be the answer to a trivia question. The pitch *was* inside, and was going to be ball three, and the batter also made no effort whatsoever to get out of the way. The batter also had a tough at-bat, hanging in there and partially creating this situation. So it goes, and such will be baseball lore fifty years from now when people eighty years old are telling their grandchildren about the time they saw Max Scherzer have his historic week, and about "the two that got away."

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Scherzer pitching + Harper in the lineup = must watch baseball at this point.  Friday in Philadelphia could be a lot of fun for the visiting team.

My stat-obsessed buddy's reply to my request for some numbers on Max's past two starts:

Today's tape-delayed episode of MAX SCHERZER DID WHAAAAAAAT???!?? compares his last two starts to the ten other pitchers in Major League Baseball history with back-to-back complete games allowing one or fewer hits (and why Max's were better).

Here's
the full list of the others for reference:

1923 Howard Ehmke
1925 Dazzy Vance
1934 Lon Warneke
1938 Johnny Vander Meer
1943 Mort Cooper
1944 Jim Tobin
1955 Whitey Ford
1966 Sam McDowell
1988 Dave Stieb
2012 R.A. Dickey

- No earned runs: All but Warneke and Ford

- Both shutouts: Ehmke, Vander Meer, Cooper, Tobin, McDowell, Stieb

- Included a no-hitter: Ehmke, Vance, Vander Meer (only back-to-back),Tobin

- Allowed only two baserunners total: Vance (one-hit shutout followed by one-walk no-hitter)

- Struck out 10 in each: DIckey

- Struck out 26 total: ONLY MAX SCHERZER (Dickey had 12 and 13 in back-to-back one-hitters)

- Back-to-back game scores of 97 or higher: ONLY MAX SCHERZER (Dickey had 95 and 96)

--- Full notes on the others ---

1923 Howard Ehmke: No-hit shutout (1 BB, 1 K) followed by one-hit shutout (1 BB, 1 HBP, 5 K)

1925 Dazzy Vance: One-hit shutout (6 K) followed by no-hitter (1 BB, 9 K, 1 R)

1934 Lon Warneke: One-hit Opening Day shutout (2 BB, 13 K) followed by one-hitter (6 BB, 5 K, 2 R, 1 ER)

1938 Johnny Vander Meer: Only back-to-back no-hitters in MLB history. 3 BB, 4 K followed by 8 BB, 7 K (both shutouts). Ironically the most walks among the list (tied with McDowell).

1943 Mort Cooper: Back-to-back one-hit shutouts. 3 BB, 2 K followed by 0 BB, 5 K

1944 Jim Tobin: One-hit shutout (1 BB, 0 K!) followed by no-hit shutout (2 BB, 6 K).

1955 Whitey Ford: Back-to-back one-hit complete game starts with a 1-1/3 inning save in between. Starts were 4 BB, 4 K, 2 R followed by 6 B, 3 K, 1 ER.

1966 Sam McDowell: Back-to-back one-hit shutouts. 6 BB, 8 K followed by 5 BB, 10 K.

1988 Dave Stieb: Back-to-back one-hit shutouts. 2 BB, 8 K followed by 1 BB, 4 K

2012 R.A. Dickey: One-hit complete game (0 BB, 12 K, 1 R) followed by one-hit shutout (2 BB, 13 K)

------

Special bonus: Best back-to-back game score total without extra innings. The only ones with back-to-back 92+ (which Kerry Wood would have needed to go with his all-time best 105):

100 97 Max Scherzer (2015)
95 96 R.A. Dickey (2012)
92 93 Dwight Gooden (1984)

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My initial impression was that these were perhaps the two finest back-to-back games in major-league history (and, to be honest, I still think that may be true).

But we all know how baseball fanatics like to debate, discuss, and over-analyze, so I was sitting here just now, wondering how to disagree. :ph34r:

Is a no-hitter with a lot of strikeouts necessarily "better" than a no-hitter with only a few? Greg Maddux, for example, only struck out 200 batters once in his career, but I thought he was one of the truly great pitchers of this past generation.

When you throw a perfect game with 16 strikeouts, you only have 11 balls put into play, but with 3 strikeouts, you have 24 balls put into play, so it's much harder to do. Pitchers like Maddux thrived on batters tapping weak grounders to the infield, often retiring entire innings in just a few pitches (4 or 5); if you strike out the side, you throw, by definition, at least 9 pitches, and often 15 or more. I can see strikeout pitchers being more "dominant" and "imposing," but are they necessarily "better?" Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, and Bert Blyleven all rank in the top 5 all-time in career strikeouts, but their W-L percentages are .526, .574, and .534. Meh. Even .574 works out to only a 93-win season, on average - that's certainly good, but not awesome.

Where Scherzer seems to be really special is in his lack of BBs and HRs - a lot of strikeout pitchers give up a lot of walks, and a lot of gherkins; not so with Scherzer.

Just a thought as I get ready to get up and walk through airport security ...

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My initial impression was that these were perhaps the two finest back-to-back games in major-league history (and, to be honest, I still think that may be true).

But we all know how baseball fanatics like to debate, discuss, and over-analyze, so I was sitting here just now, wondering how to disagree. :ph34r:

Is a no-hitter with a lot of strikeouts necessarily "better" than a no-hitter with only a few? Greg Maddux, for example, only struck out 200 batters once in his career, but I thought he was one of the truly great pitchers of this past generation.

When you throw a perfect game with 16 strikeouts, you only have 11 balls put into play, but with 3 strikeouts, you have 24 balls put into play, so it's much harder to do. Pitchers like Maddux thrived on batters tapping weak grounders to the infield, often retiring entire innings in just a few pitches (4 or 5); if you strike out the side, you throw, by definition, at least 9 pitches, and often 15 or more. I can see strikeout pitchers being more "dominant" and "imposing," but are they necessarily "better?" Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, and Bert Blyleven all rank in the top 5 all-time in career strikeouts, but their W-L percentages are .526, .574, and .534. Meh. Even .574 works out to only a 93-win season, on average - that's certainly good, but not awesome.

Where Scherzer seems to be really special is in his lack of BBs and HRs - a lot of strikeout pitchers give up a lot of walks, and a lot of gherkins; not so with Scherzer.

Just a thought as I get ready to get up and walk through airport security ...

Just a thought: a "ground ball" pitcher thrives by getting batters to make contact with bad or borderline pitches, putting them weakly into play.  A strikeout machine gets a lot of those same batters to swing at bad or borderline pitches and miss them.

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Just a thought: a "ground ball" pitcher thrives by getting batters to make contact with bad or borderline pitches, putting them weakly into play.  A strikeout machine gets a lot of those same batters to swing at bad or borderline pitches and miss them.

So?

I can't agree with "bad or borderline" for either type of pitcher, at least not as an absolute - a control pitcher often throws a pitch that breaks at the last moment (nibbling at the borders of the strike zone), denying the hitter a chance to hit the sweet spot of the bat, and resulting in either a ground ball or pop-up; a power pitcher will basically blow it by the battered batter.

Power pitchers do allow the fielders to breathe easy, as the strikeout does their work for them, but I'm not sure it they result in a better outcome, as they tend to tire early in the innings and make more mistakes.

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"Bad or borderline" meaning bad for the batter.  They are good pitches.  And who ever said anything about strikeout artistry being all about power?  Fooling batters on nasty breaking stuff produces the same result.  Having a wide array of deliveries at your disposal and being able to place them exactly where you want can beat being able to throw 97+ pitch after pitch (see R.A. Dickey ca. 2012).

I don't think we can argue that not allowing the batter to put a ball in play is the preferred outcome for any given at bat, though, right?  Errors happen.  Even the weakest of infield dribblers finds a hole or a dead spot in the shift.  Or the runner beats a throw.  Or Souza/Taylor isn't there to make an AMAZING catch to preserve the no-no.  All of which raises another question: how much of a no hitter can we attribute to a pitcher vs. the defense playing behind him?  How much of it is just dumb luck?!?!

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And who ever said anything about strikeout artistry being all about power? Fooling batters on nasty breaking stuff produces the same result.

The top three career strikeout leaders of all-time are Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens. These pitchers were the definition of raw power and intimidation, and averaged 5,087 strikeouts between the three of them; only one other player has had more than 3,701.

I don't think we can argue that not allowing the batter to put a ball in play is the preferred outcome for any given at bat, though, right?  Errors happen.  Even the weakest of infield dribblers finds a hole or a dead spot in the shift.  Or the runner beats a throw.  Or Souza/Taylor isn't there to make an AMAZING catch to preserve the no-no.  All of which raises another question: how much of a no hitter can we attribute to a pitcher vs. the defense playing behind him?  How much of it is just dumb luck?!?!

 

Yes, I agree with this for the most part (exception: a nasty sinker that the batter swings at for strike three, bounces off the plate, and rolls to the backstop, allowing a runner on third to score, on first or second to advance a base, or allowing the batter to reach first).

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The top three career strikeout leaders of all-time are Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens. These pitchers were the definition of raw power and intimidation,

And a healthy dose of steroids for one and maybe two.

But yeah, I get the intimidation thing. I remember one important game when Clemens was pitching for the Yankees (either a playoff game or a late season game) where he threw a pitch, and after you could clearly read his lips screaming "FUCK YOU!!" at the batter. I don't recall what the issue was, but Clemens looked like a fire breathing dragon when he did it. 'Roid rage may have been a factor too.

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better by a large margin

Scherzer -- 18 IP, 1 hit, 26 K, 1 BB, 1 HBP

Vander Meer -- 18 IP, 0 hits, 11 K, 11 BB, 0 HBP

Aren't records like this *annoying*?

You know that Pete Sampras and Roger Federer - who each won Wimbledon seven times - are haunted by the ghost of William Renshaw, who also won it seven times back in the 1880s. The hitch there is: The champion from the previous year would get an automatic berth into the finals the next year, and would only have to win *one match* to win the entire tournament.

Nobody in their right minds would ever say that Renshaw's accomplishment equaled those of Sampras and Federer, and yet ... it exists. Just like Johnny Vander Meer still being the only person ever to throw back-to-back no-hitters. It's annoying as *hell* because it's obvious that Scherzer's two games were better; and yet ... Vander Meer's record still exists.

Very, *very* few people would have ever heard of Vander Meer had he not accomplished this feat (his career W-L record was under .500!); and yet, he's fairly famous for having done this. No, it's not fair, but life seldom is.

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better by a large margin

Scherzer -- 18 IP, 1 hit, 26 K, 1 BB, 1 HBP

Vander Meer -- 18 IP, 0 hits, 11 K, 11 BB, 0 HBP

These records are so unbelievable.  They are in the Big Leagues.   Pitchers going against the best batters in the world.   Looking at that made me think back to something.  A guy from my home town pitched 4 no hitters "in a row" in high school; two at the end of his jr year, and two at the beginning of his sr year.  He was chosen by the media as one of the best high school baseball pitchers in New Jersey for the decade of the '60's.   My older brother was friendly with this guy.

He was a college pitcher, in the minors and I think he pitched 2 or 4 games in the big leagues.  I bet there are lots of unbelievable high school and college records...and when they get to the pros everything is different.  I bet that occurs hundreds of times, possibly thousands over the decades.

Two games in a row.  Stunning dominance.  I watched the last couple of innings of the 2nd game by Scherzer.  He was blowing em by batters, throwing strikes.  He was on.

I bet Vander Meer was "on" too.  I hope Scherzer still has it for the next game.  That is worth watching.

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And so far tonight, Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings.

ETA 8:27 PM 5 innings. And Scherzer hit a single and scored in the top of the 5th.

ETA 8:45 PM No-hitter gone, but still a 1-hit shutout through 6 innings.

This man has made a deal with the devil.

I've got to tell you all this story ... I remember my father and I, sitting in the living room, watching the legendary Larry Bird - Dominique Wilkins game. At one point, Bird made some ridiculous shot from the corner, and my father just started laughing, and blurted out in disbelief, "He's got a pact with the *devil*!"

The odds are we'll never see anything like this again in our lifetimes (famous last words), so may as well enjoy it to the fullest.

DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THIS GAME IS BEING AUDIO OR VIDEO STREAMED ON THE INTERNET?

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Okay, Mad Max, after 7 innings, your ERA is down to 1.73, you've struck out 130 and walked 14 for the season. You can take a rest now.

It seems absurd to be saying "thank you" to someone with a 9-figure contract, but ... Thank you!

It isn't only your pitching which has been nearly perfect; it has also been your wonderful demeanor and sportsmanship - you are a great role model for children.

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My initial impression was that these were perhaps the two finest back-to-back games in major-league history (and, to be honest, I still think that may be true).

But we all know how baseball fanatics like to debate, discuss, and over-analyze, so I was sitting here just now, wondering how to disagree. :ph34r:

Is a no-hitter with a lot of strikeouts necessarily "better" than a no-hitter with only a few? Greg Maddux, for example, only struck out 200 batters once in his career, but I thought he was one of the truly great pitchers of this past generation.

When you throw a perfect game with 16 strikeouts, you only have 11 balls put into play, but with 3 strikeouts, you have 24 balls put into play, so it's much harder to do. Pitchers like Maddux thrived on batters tapping weak grounders to the infield, often retiring entire innings in just a few pitches (4 or 5); if you strike out the side, you throw, by definition, at least 9 pitches, and often 15 or more. I can see strikeout pitchers being more "dominant" and "imposing," but are they necessarily "better?" Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, and Bert Blyleven all rank in the top 5 all-time in career strikeouts, but their W-L percentages are .526, .574, and .534. Meh. Even .574 works out to only a 93-win season, on average - that's certainly good, but not awesome.

Where Scherzer seems to be really special is in his lack of BBs and HRs - a lot of strikeout pitchers give up a lot of walks, and a lot of gherkins; not so with Scherzer.

Just a thought as I get ready to get up and walk through airport security ...

This article is semi-related to my post:

"We're Seeing More Strikeouts, But It Takes Many More Pitches To Get Them" by Rob Arthur on fivethirtyeight.com

I'm not really making any type of "point" here; it's more of an observation.

BTW, where the hell did this "Game Score" metric come from? I'd never even heard of it until a few days ago, and now I've read about it several times.

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To put the second half of Sandy Koufax's career in perspective, if you watch this video, you'll see numerous *very* credible people saying about Koufax what they're saying about Scherzer right now: he was a legitimate threat every single time he took the mound to pitch a no-hitter. People have been saying that about Scherzer for *three games*; people in the Koufax video say that was the case over a period of *several years*.

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"Max Scherzer Repeats as Cy Young Winner" on espn.com

Remember also that Mad Max won the 2013 AL Cy Young Award for the Detroit Tigers, giving him 3 in the last 5 years.

It really hurt seeing him in Game 7 versus the Cubs, but this is one of those "first-world hurt" issues:

"Washington Nationals' 2017 Campaign Ends with 9-8 Loss to Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of the NLDS" by Patrick Reddington on federalbaseball.com

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Max Scherzer pitched an "Immaculate Inning" last night: 9 pitches, 9 strikes, 3 strikeouts.

This is a rare feat that only a handful of the very greatest pitchers in history have done more than once (this was Scherzer's second time): He joins Nolan Ryan, Lefty Grove, Sandy Koufax, and Randy Johnson.

I wonder if anyone knows whether or not it has ever been done:

1) with all 9 pitches having the batter caught looking
2) with all 9 pitches having the batter swinging
3) with all 9 pitches having the better swinging and missing
3) with all 9 pitches having zero contact (#1 and #3 above imply this; Scherzer last night threw one, single foul tip on a strike one pitch)

"Watch: Max Scherzer Pitches Second Immaculate Inning of his Career" by Jenna West on si.com

I also wonder if a "Perfect Game" (27 up, 27 down) is to an "Immaculate Inning" (9 balls, 9 strikes), the same way a "No Hitter" (which includes reaching on walks and errors) is to ... "Something Else" (which involves pitching 12-13 pitches, all strikes, but with foul tips on strike 2). In a way, that would be even more impressive.

Also, how often a pitcher will escape with a "3-Pitch Inning," inducing the batter to swing into an out on the first pitch, 3 straight times - to me, that's the most efficient way of getting people out *and* conserving the pitchers arm. A pitcher could conceivably throw a 27-pitch game! 

On a related tangent, the writer George Will figured out a way for a batter to hit into a triple play without any defenders ever touching the ball after it is hit - any guesses? (No peaking!) PS - There is a very credible story from a minor league manager, where he tells of this very play happening, naming names, situations, dates, and everything!

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3 hours ago, Al Dente said:

He had back to back strikeouts in the 1st, 2nd, and 5th before striking out 3 with 9 pitches in the 6th. He stuck out a total of 13 in 8 innings.

Amazing.

13 strikeouts in 8 innings is really impressive until you realize that's about his average this year.  Going into that game he was striking 'em out at the rate of 13.7 per 9 innings.

Unless he completely implodes in the back half of the season it's a lock for a CY three peat.  There is a future HOF pitcher in his prime playing for this town right now, go see him whenever you can!

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34 minutes ago, TedE said:

13 strikeouts in 8 innings is really impressive until you realize that's about his average this year.  Going into that game he was striking 'em out at the rate of 13.7 per 9 innings.

Unless he completely implodes in the back half of the season it's a lock for a CY three peat.  There is a future HOF pitcher in his prime playing for this town right now, go see him whenever you can!

Scherzer could be struck by lightning today, and he'd be in the Hall.

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On 3/8/2019 at 7:39 PM, DonRocks said:

4 pitchers in major league history have had 7 straight 200+ strikeout seasons.

Max Scherzer, Roger Clemens, and Walter Johnson had 7 (Scherzer's streak is still active).

Tom Seaver had 9.

He stands alone.

After the 2019 season, Max Scherzer now has 8 straight 200+ strikeout seasons. He averaged over 1.4 strikeouts per inning last year!

It's statistics like this which will be "weird" with a partial season thrown in. Scherzer certainly won't have 200 strikeouts in 2020, but what if he does in 2021 and 2022? Does he break Seaver's record of 9 straight? I don't think so.

Screenshot 2020-08-02 at 21.03.55.png.

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