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Getting to know Max Scherzer, the Mets’ newest ace

Mad Max will now pitch in Queens.

Division Series - San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Maxwell M. Scherzer is a surefire hall-of-famer who is one of the four most accomplished pitchers of his generation, sharing that circle with Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, and Zack Greinke. Of those four, one could argue Scherzer is currently pitching the best, after finishing third in the National League Cy Young voting last season posting a monstrous 166 ERA+ in 30 starts for the Nationals and the Dodgers. And after signing a three-year deal that includes the highest average annual value in MLB history, he now pitches for the Mets.

The Cardinals initially drafted Scherzer in the 43rd round of the 2003 MLB Draft, and though the Cardinals were his favorite team growing up, Scherzer instead chose to attend the University of Missouri. In 2006, the Diamondbacks chose Scherzer 11th overall, four spots below Kershaw and one spot below Tim Lincecum, and Scherzer spent a little more than a season in the minors before making his debut in Arizona in 2008.

The Diamondbacks traded Scherzer alongside Daniel Schlereth, Phil Coke, and Austin Jackson to the Tigers in late 2009 in a three-team deal that sent Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks and Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. Though it took a few years to establish his star in Detroit, Scherzer broke out for good in 2013, winning his first of three Cy Young Awards and establishing a streak of seven consecutive top-5 Cy Young finishes.

After reaching free agency in 2015, the Nationals signed Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million deal that prompted this banger and for Bryce Harper to ask “where’s my ring?” upon hearing the news. The Nationals finished the season second in the division, missed the playoffs, and watched the Mets win the pennant.

But in all seriousness, Scherzer blossomed into the best pitcher in baseball during his time in D.C. He won back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2016 and 2017, led the league in strikeouts in three consecutive seasons, notched a 20-strikeout game in 2016 tying the MLB record for an individual pitcher in a nine-inning game, recorded two no-hitters in 2015 (including one against the Mets, considered by some as one of the greatest pitched games of all time), and led the Nationals to the franchise’s first-ever World Series in 2019.

The Nationals traded Scherzer to the Dodgers in the middle of the 2021 season, and Scherzer put up arguably the most impressive half-season of his career. In only 11 starts for the Dodgers, Scherzer went 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA, punching 89 strikeouts in 68 innings and recording a massive 208 ERA+. Based almost entirely on that performance, Scherzer finished third in the Cy Young voting behind Corbin Burnes and Zack Wheeler. He started the NL Wild Card Game against the Cardinals, a game the Dodgers ended up winning, but couldn’t recreate his regular-season success after a devastating loss to the Giants in Game 3 of the Division Series despite pitching a gem and leaving after only 4.1 innings in an eventual loss to the Braves in Game 2 of the Championship Series.

Scherzer features a fastball that still averages in the mid-90s, with a slider and changeup as his primary second pitches and an occasional curveball tossed into the mix. Along with his elite stuff, Scherzer’s durability also separates him from his contemporaries, as he’s started at least 30 games in 11 of the past 12 seasons, not including the shortened 2020 season. He’s twice led the league in innings pitched, recorded over 200 innings pitched in six different seasons, and has never registered fewer than 170 innings pitched outside his rookie season and 2020.

There aren’t that many pitchers in baseball better than Scherzer, but since one of them also plays in Queens, the Mets will likely place him second in the rotation. With Scherzer and Jacob deGrom at the top of the rotation, the Mets have arguably the best 1-2 punch in baseball and the start of a potentially fearsome rotation.

Fun Facts!

  • Scherzer has heterochromia iridum, a condition that makes his right eye blue and left eye brown.
  • His first-born daughter is named Brooklyn. Neat!
  • He was the youngest pitcher ever to have defeated all 30 MLB teams.
  • He is one of 19 pitchers to have ever recorded 3,000 strikeouts, registering that achievement with the Dodgers last year.
  • He is the fifth pitcher to start in the All-Star Game for both the American and National Leagues.
  • He lives in Jupiter, Florida, about a 30-minute drive from the Mets’ facility in Port St. Lucie.