Tonight is Max Scherzer’s night to shine against a Pittsburgh Pirates team he was an out away from a perfect game in 2015 until a hit-by-pitch changed it to a no-hitter — the first no-no of his illustrious career. Scherzer has done it all except hoist the World Series trophy, and with that in mind — this start should only be about using this game as a tune-up for the NLDS and the rest of the post-season.
There are personal milestones at stake for Scherzer who can still take back the club lead for the ERA crown which is currently held by Stephen Strasburg who moved into the lead on the Nats pitching staff with his 2.52 ERA while Scherzer is currently at 2.55. Gio Gonzalez has his start tomorrow but he can’t realistically surpass Strasburg’s mark. The Nationals “triumvirate” is the best 3 in baseball.
Strasburg turned in 7 2/3 shutout innings last night earning his 20th quality start of the season and surpassing the 200-strikeout mark for just the second time in his career. With the stats sheet closed on his regular season for Strasburg, we can now discuss his historic 2nd half of the season in which he went 6-and-1 with an 0.86 ERA in 10 starts after the All-Star break. Via Elias Sports, it was the second lowest mark ever for a post-All Star break ERA in Major League baseball history for any pitcher with at least 10 starts after the All-Star game.
Last night’s win was the 97th of the season with 2 games remaining for Dusty Baker’s Washington Nationals 2017 teams. The Nationals record was set in 2012 with 98 wins in that season under the management of Davey Johnson. Baker could tie the Nats franchise record tonight, and surpass it tomorrow.
The Pirates have right-hander Jameson Taillon a former top-prospect on the mound tonight as he finishes up a season where the young man had testicular cancer this season. Back in 2010, Harper was of course the #1 teenager in baseball and the presumptive #1 overall pick and Taillon held that same distinction for teenage pitchers.
“Bryce is a good guy,” Taillon said. “I know him pretty well off the field. I went to Venezuela with him [for the Pan American Games], threw to him in [batting practice] for the gold medal game. We got to dogpile together when we won that gold medal.”
Back in 2010, Harper would rattle off names of the future stars of baseball and often you would hear him say “Jameson Taillon”. There was certainly mutual respect, but these top prospects have seen their careers go in different directions. Taillon’s ERA this season stands at 4.62.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park
1st Pitch: 7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN, ATT-Sportsnet Pittsburgh, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® XM 183 Sirius 216 (Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):
- Trea Turner SS
- Bryce Harper RF
- Wilmer Difo 3B
- Daniel Murphy 2B
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Jayson Werth LF
- Matt Wieters C
- Michael Taylor CF
- Max Scherzer P