Dodgers' Max Scherzer posts his 3,000th career strike

Chris Snyder, the Arizona Diamondbacks starting receiver on April 29, 2008, was known to be chatty behind the plate during games. So wh...


Chris Snyder, the Arizona Diamondbacks starting receiver on April 29, 2008, was known to be chatty behind the plate during games. So when his friend Jack Cassel, the starting pitcher for the Houston Astros that day, came to bat in the third inning, Snyder asked Cassel about his younger brother, Matt, Tom Brady’s replacement quarterback. on the New England Patriots in the NFL.

But when Cassel noticed a 23-year-old pitcher fresh off the pen making his major league debut and hitting 96 miles per hour in his warm-up on the mound, he politely asked Snyder to shut him down.

“I forgot exactly what I said, but I was like, ‘Don’t talk to me like that at bat. I have to lock it, ”recalls Cassel in a telephone interview. “The speed was recorded on the Chase Field chart. And I could also see it myself because I hadn’t thrown so hard.

After six pitches – the last a fastball that passed the surpassed pitcher – Cassel became the very first major-league player to be retired by then-Diamondbacks’ top prospect Max Scherzer.

There is no shame in getting kicked off the plate by Scherzer, now 37. In a career spanning 14 seasons, four teams, eight All-Star Game selections, three Cy Young Awards and a World Series title, Scherzer is one of the elite pitchers of this generation or any. generation and embarrassed many hitters with his powerful right arm.

And in a 8-0 win against the San Diego Padres on Sunday in Los Angeles, Scherzer was at his best, sending batter after batter back into the dugout while muttering to themselves. Scherzer, the Dodgers ace, threw a clean second inning of nine shots and three hits and flirted with a perfect game. In the fifth inning, with a punch from first baseman Eric Hosmer, Scherzer joined baseball’s 3000 batting club.

Hosmer, however, got a bit of revenge by breaking Scherzer’s offer in a perfect game with a brace with an eighth inning out.

Although he couldn’t achieve a second historic feat in the same game, Scherzer became the 19th person to hit 3,000 strikeouts, a club that includes Hall of Fame members like Tom seaver, Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson and Fergie Jenkins. Throwing as a player still in his prime, Scherzer could continue to climb the career strikeout list in the major leagues, which is dominated by Nolan Ryan, who pitched until the age of 46 and retired. 5,714 batters at bat.

“There aren’t a lot of people who have reached this milestone,” Scherzer said. “It’s a great thing to accomplish. I love strikeouts and for me it’s a testament to sustainability. “

In an age of baseball defined by more velocity, more movement on the field, and more strikeouts, few have been better than Scherzer. Of pitchers with at least 1000 innings since the start of the 2012 season, he’s led it with a strikeout rate of almost 32 percent on Sunday. Nicknamed “Mad Max»And known for careful training and racing diet, Scherzer maintained an average fast ball speed around 94 mph at this age.

“He was meant for it,” Dodgers star outfielder Mookie Betts said of Scherzer’s strike feat. “All the work he does, who he is, everything he does. It sounds a little weird, but I expect nothing less from him.

Scherzer’s career arc can be traced through his strikeouts. A first-round pick by the University of Missouri Diamondbacks in 2006, he reached the majors two years later. In Scherzer’s debut, Edgar Gonzalez started for the Diamondbacks, but after Gonzalez spat six points, Scherzer came back from the bullpen.

With the Diamondbacks down 6-2, Scherzer inherited a runner on second with two strikeouts in the third inning. Cassel, then 27, knew of Scherzer’s reputation as a tough youngster, but felt great after slamming a single in his previous fight against Gonzalez. Soon Cassel saw he was in trouble.

“He had this unorthodox delivery – his front face got high, the arm came back and it wasn’t straight above, rather three-quarters,” Cassel said. “He hid the ball well. With that arm angle and with that speed, I could see why this guy was good.

Cassel got back into the batter’s box and choked on the stick, hoping to make up for his slower stick speed and push the ball into right field. It helped once: after two balls, a strike and another offering, Cassel fouled on the fifth court. Then Scherzer propelled a 96 mph fastball past Cassel’s bat with his fierce header delivery.

“I got a piece of him,” Cassel said of the foul ball, laughing. “It was something to hang my hat on, I guess.”

In all, Scherzer pitched four perfect innings and a third of relief, setting a major league record for a pitcher making his reliever debut by striking out 13 straight batters. He took out seven.

Worried that Scherzer’s way of throwing can lead to injury, the Diamondbacks traded him to the Detroit Tigers ahead of the 2010 season. There, Scherzer overcame a brief demotion in the minor leagues, added a curveball and became more of a strikeout threat, helping the Tigers reach the 2012 World Series and to win the 2013 American League Cy Young Award.

Scherzer joined the Washington Nationals ahead of the 2015 season on a seven-year, $ 210 million contract that he turned into a bargain. Using his intellect and unleashed competitiveness to find new ways to improve each year, he won the national championships for the next six and a half years. (He once pitched with a broken nose and black eye suffered during batting practice.)

In 2015, he threw two hits. In 2016 and 2017, he won back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards. At May 11, 2016, Scherzer tied Kerry Wood, Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson for the major league record for strikeouts in a nine-innings game with 20. And in October 2019, he guided the Nationals to their first World Series title.

From 2015 to 2019, Scherzer averaged 210 innings and 274 strikeouts, while posting an earned-run average of 2.74 and a 79-39 record. He’s bounced back from a sluggish year in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, in which he posted a 3.74 ERA, and is now making a late-season push for his fourth Cy Young Award.

Outside of the playoffs, the Nationals traded him to the defending World Series champions Dodgers before the July 30 trade deadline. Scherzer, also a top union representative, has a 0.88 ERA and 72 strikeouts, including nine on Sunday, with his new team. They’ve won his eight starts and saw him come five out of a perfect game on Sunday.

After scoring his 3,000th strikeout, Scherzer quickly recognized the standing ovation from the Dodger Stadium crowd – which included his parents, wife and children – by raising his cap high above his head. But in his usual way, he wasn’t smiling, too focused on the game, and he got back to work right away.

“When you win awards or achieve a milestone, it usually takes a year to fully appreciate what that means in the context of everything,” Scherzer said. “I hope that I will continue to present and imagine new things to do, and I hope you will have more perspective and enjoy the story of this in over a year.”

Looking from afar, Cassel, now 41 and a Nasdaq executive who lives in California, has enjoyed watching Scherzer’s career in the big leagues since that very first strike. The same goes for his two sons, who have Scherzer baseball cards. One has a Scherzer jersey.

“It’s just great to see his career progress,” said Cassel, who played in 15 games for the Padres and Astros in 2007 and 2008. “I saw him early on and there are a lot of good guys. talented people who can play the game, so it’s always fun to watch those who do. It’s been a cool part with Scherzer in particular, just watching him continue to compete and, even with age, continue to improve in his craft.

Not long ago, Cassel said he received a text message from a friend informing him that old footage of Cassel’s pitch was on MLB Network. Wondering what game could possibly be given to his brief career, Cassel saw that the channel was broadcasting Scherzer’s major league debut, and so he was also on TV.

“I am Mr. Nobody and this is a Hall of Famer,” he said. “I take it as a compliment to be associated with him and to be on the same ground with him. I’m a fan of him and of what he has done with his career and the game. “

Cassel said he recorded the replay of the 2008 game and showed it to his children, teaching them a lesson to learn from failure, especially in a sport that abounds with failure. Even now he laughs at the strikeout against Scherzer. He is clearly not alone.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Dodgers' Max Scherzer posts his 3,000th career strike
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