WASHINGTON — Max Scherzer is not only one of the best pitchers in baseball, but one of the most consistent.
Though he’s struggled with allowing home runs over the past year, he’s otherwise been the same as he ever was. He leads MLB in strikeouts, with 155, and he’s tied for the fifth-most innings pitched, with 120.2. He’s throwing strikeouts at the highest rate of his career, 11.6 per nine innings, and he’s lowered his ERA from 4.05 at the end of May to 3.21 entering Saturday’s game against the New York Mets.
Most important, however, is his ability to continue performing these exploits, year after year. He’s pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past three seasons, and at least 170 in each season since he made his debut in 2008.
His ability to stay healthy and manage his own body was the subject of a New York Times story that came out Friday.
The Mets pitchers have been riddled by injuries all season, despite that most of them are in their mid-20s, and the team management has come under scrutiny in recent weeks for its handling of the young arms. Scherzer is praised for knowing when he can push himself and when he has to hold back, and for not being too proud to tell a manager when he can’t push it.
Competitive spirit is a tough thing to manage. Athletes are scrutinized if they can’t stay healthy, but they’re blasted by fans if they don’t attempt to play through injury. If they try to play through the injury, they risk aggravating it and it ends up much worse in the long term.