Unfortunately, this is not a Back To The Future episode of Opening Day 2019, but those starters are back on the mound tonight as the Mets try to win this series up 2-games-to-0. The only two men who have won the NL Cy Young awards the last three years are on the mound tonight, and it is the premiere marquee matchup. When they met last, it was Jacob deGrom throwing the knockout blow on the Nats in a 2-0 shutout. Scherzer was good in that game, but deGrom was better. That has been the problem with Scherzer most of the season — he has been very good but not the dominant Scherzer we have seen in year’s past.
Some have blamed the defense and pointed to Scherzer’s fantastic FIP (2.44) statistics to say he has been great, but too often his pitch count is ballooning in the 6th inning and he has lacked that putaway pitch that has seemed to elude him in key spots. His road BABIP this year has been .418 which says he has been extremely unlucky with a 4.74 road ERA. But the great ones always make their own luck. His curveball and changeup this year have just not been what they have been in the past and the hard hit rates have increased overall from 28.6% to 39.4%. Fangraphs rated his changeup as a +1.75 last year and now as a -2.42 this season. Either Scherzer has to change the pitch quality on the changeup and curveball or else he has to live with the consequences.
Before there was Sabremetrics, you would be what your ERA said you were and just debate the eye test. Scherzer’s ERA is 3.72 and that is what you would expect from a good #3 pitcher not a multiple Cy Young winner. Fangraphs loves Scherzer, warts and all, but the Nats need the dominant Scherzer who can throw shutouts. This season Scherzer has given up at least 2-runs in every game. Blame it if you want on the defense, but the hard hit % and changeup and curveball statistics tell a different story, and that has resulted in high pitch counts. Scherzer has allowed only 1 extra baserunner every 4 innings compared to last year so his WHIP is still good at 1.194 and his HR% is actually better than last year so the explanation could go to not having the putaway pitch when runners are in scoring position. They are hitting him at .262 in RISP this year versus .153 last year and there is your difference of why the ERA is up over 1 run a game from last year. His K rate was 44.5% last year in RISP spots and this year is 40%. Both numbers are great but 4.5% more of those hitters are putting the balls in play and overall more of them are getting hit hard and staying in the field of play.
Debate those statistics.
Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets
Stadium: CitiField, Queens, New York
1st Pitch: 7:10 pm EDT
TV: MASN2; MLB App out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Line-ups subject to change without notice: