The Washington Nationals have one of the top pitching staffs in baseball, and it starts with Max Scherzer. One of the top fantasy baseball pitchers over the last decade is starting to trickle down in ADP, but not by much. He is a first round pick in bigger leagues, and a very early second round pick in your 10-12 man leagues. Scherzer generally will bring you a ton of wins and strikeouts. He has elite control and has had an ERA under three in every season since arriving in Washington. Not many are bringing the same consistency year in and year out like Scherzer does. Even with him getting a bit older, there is still plenty life left in him. He did battle some injuries last season, but has come into Spring healthy. He should get back over the 200 inning mark.
Last Three Years Stats
Not many are besting Max Scherzer’s numbers over the past three seasons. He has 45 wins in that span, a 12.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. Scherzer is only second to Jacob deGrom in ERA over the past two years. He is sitting at 2.64 with a 2.68 FIP. In terms of standard numbers, Scherzer has 811 strikeouts, which is two ahead of his former teammate Justin Verlander. However, Scherzer has done it in ten fewer starts. You are getting a consistent ace who brings it every year.
2020 Fantasy Projections
Scherzer projects for 190 innings, but clearly there is room for more as that has been the case in most seasons of his career. He ranks second in strikeout projections just slightly ahead of Verlander and behind Cole. His WHIP projects just about the same as them, and the ERA isn’t too far behind. Needless to say, Scherzer’s projections fall in line with what he has done over the past few years.
— MLB (@MLB) February 28, 2020
With a majority the pitchers being drafted early, they have a very stable floor. Injuries are always something that derails a pitcher, and while Scherzer had under 200 innings for the first time since 2012 and missed some time with an injury, I am not worried. You know you are going to get 220+ strikeouts and a very strong WHIP. The ERA won’t blowup either. Even with Scherzer getting up there, he is still a top fantasy arm.
Max Scherzer has been hitting his ceiling more often than not over the past few seasons. Getting 15+ wins should be there again even though it wasn’t in 2019. You are going to get the ERA in the twos, but a chance to hit 275+ strikeouts is what Scherzer’s range of outcomes are. He still has excellent stuff, with a plus fastball that has not shown a decline in velocity.
Scherzer is going either the late first round in a 14-15 team league, or he is going very early in the second of a 10-12 man league. He is in a range with Justin Verlander and Walker Buehler. Jacob deGrom and Gerrit Cole are the frontrunners. If things even out between the starting pitchers of the first five, you are not at any sort of disadvantage. Now you are not gaining much value because everyone still made their first pick with one of those names.
Coming into Spring Training it has been a positive sign for Max Scherzer, and he looks ready to go. Scherzer has been one of the most durable pitchers in baseball. The 170 innings last year was short of expectations, and he may not have been fully healthy in the second half when his numbers went up a bit. Overall Scherzer is still a fairly healthy name for fantasy purposes with little risk.
Park Factors & Divisional Opponents
Nationals Park is actually a very underrated hitters park, as it produces above average extra bases and home runs. It also has ranked top five in runs over the last two years. Max Scherzer was slightly worst (yet still very good) at home, but had stronger numbers away from Nationals Park. The NL East has a few strong pitchers parks, with Citi Field and Marlins Park. The New Braves Ballpark played more average in comparison to Turner Field in prior seasons. Citizens Bank in Philadelphia is a good hitters park. There is quite a balance within the division.
As far divisional opponents go, NL East isn’t a bad spot. Philadelphia is a tough offense that underperformed a bit, but we know their upside. Atlanta is up there as well, ranking 7th in runs per game. They also are a team that doesn’t strikeout a ton. The Mets were a league average offense, but have some pop in that lineup. Outside of Miami, this is a fairly solid offensive division. However, Scherzer is an elite ace where it doesn’t matter too much.
Max Scherzer is now in his mid 30’s, but still has some of the nastiest stuff in the game. He throws a fastball, slider, changeup, curve, and cutter. His fastball is still going strong, and has been around the 94-95 mph rate on average over the last two seasons. Scherzer can dial it up higher on occasion. He had a 27% whiff rate and 26% put away rate on his fastball last season. The slider is unreal. He had a 50% whiff rate on his slider and 30% put away rate on it last year. He thew it 20% of the time, all to right-handed hitters. His changeup was used more towards left-handed hitters, where he has a 39% whiff rate and 23% put away rate. The curve and cutter hovered around the 25% whiff rate.
Scherzer has been above a 30% strikeout rate over the last five seasons, and is a great control pitcher as well. He hasn’t had a walk rate over 7% in the last five seasons. He doesn’t have the velocity of some others, but still in the 72nd percentile. His fastball spin and off-speed spin rates are still at way above average numbers. All the expected stats also back up his production.
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