WASHINGTON — Only 59 games into their 2017 season, the Nationals already have an 11.5-game lead over the Braves, a substantial gap between themselves and the second-best team in the NL East.
Even more mind-boggling, the Nats, after winning 13 of their last 17 games, are on a blistering 104-win pace.
One might wonder if that’s the type of early success which could trick a team into complacency, though, during his weekly segment — “On the Mound with Max Scherzer,” presented by Dulles Motors — the Nationals ace assured that’s not the case.
“This is the big leagues,” Scherzer told 106.7 The Fan when asked how the Nats remain focused without any pressure on them. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 games up or 20 games back, you have to go out there and give it your best effort every single time.”
By mid-May, the Nats had reached a new early-season milestone after their division lead grew to nine games, the earliest point in the season any Nationals club had ever held such a sizable division lead.
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“I think that’s one thing that kind of gets lost in this,” Sherzer said. “If you look at the Braves last year, they were completely out of it, but they actually played you so tough. It didn’t matter if you were up five runs, they were going to come back and try to score. They did a phenomenal job of competing, even when they had nothing to play for.”
“So even if it’s the other way around and you’re up a ton of games,” he said, “the fact that you have to completely go out there and give absolutely everything you’ve got every single time you touch the field, the standings has no regard on that.”