Add another entry to the Legend of Max Scherzer. The Nationals starter and likely future Hall of Famer suffered a broken nose while practicing bunting during batting practice Tuesday, but the initial against the Phillies.
Sure enough, he took the ball just as he does nearly every single turn, every single season (this year will likely mark his 11th straight with at least 30 starts).
Let’s be real: Scherzer already looks intimidating on the mound just because he’s Max Freaking Scherzer. It’s also because, when he’s on, he’ll stomp around and even cuss to himself while he’s winding up. Now add this look to the equation:
Scherzer went out and did what we’ve seen him do so many times in his career. He dominated.
Specifically, he worked seven scoreless innings, allowing only four hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts (WAS 2, PHI 0). If you want the number of times we’ve seen this type of dominant outing, this was the 16th time in Scherzer’s esteemed career he went at least seven scoreless innings with at least 10 strikeouts, with 12 of those coming since he joined the Nationals in 2015. It was his first outing of the type this season, though.
Those familiar with Scherzer’s work over the years will recall he has a tendency to amp things up in special spots. You know, like playoff games or toward the end of a shutout or a historic outing. Or sometimes just when he’s mad. We can add “when he has a broken nose” to the list. Sure enough:
Since Scherzer needed 117 pitches to get through seven and given that he had a broken freaking nose, he needed two innings from the bullpen and it was only 1-0 when he left. Knowing what we know about the Nationals bullpen this season (mostly before this month, but still!) and the awful luck he has had with that and run support, it felt like he was going to take a hard-luck no decision.
The Nationals, by the way, swept a doubleheader from the Phillies on Wednesday and have won 16 of their past 23. They are three games within .500 for the first time since April 29.
Still, this one was all about adding the legend of Mr. Scherzer.