WASHINGTON — Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw, the leading Cy Young candidates in the National League, each have made 16 starts for their respective clubs this season.
And yet, at 1,594 pitches, Kershaw has thrown 116 fewer pitches than Scherzer — the difference of an entire start.
What’s the cause for such a large discrepancy?
“I just know, watching him pitch, how efficient he is,” Scherzer said of Kershaw. “He can throw all those innings and be that efficient; it’s remarkable to watch him throw.”
Scherzer’s built to throw between 105 and 110 pitches per start, he says. By averaging 106.8 pitches, he’s right in his sweet spot for 2017.
“I’m always comfortable doing that,” he said. “It’s when you start going over the 110-pitch count, that’s when you’ve got to pay attention to the pitch counts, and when you run a couple of those in a row, you know your arm’s going to feel a little bit different the next time out.”
All told, Scherzer has outperformed his Dodger counterpart despite taking more pitches to get the job done. He’s gone 9-5 and leads the NL with a 2.06 ERA and 151 strikeouts, while Kershaw’s gone 11-2 with a 2.47 ERA and 123 strikeouts.
It’s difficult to reconcile the difference in total pitches thrown by each pitcher with their pitches on a per-start basis. Scherzer is only throwing 7.25 more pitches per outing, but it adds up.
Stretch that out over 33 starts and Scherzer will have thrown 239.25 more pitches than Kershaw by the start of the postseason — a difference of nearly two-and-a-half starts.
“Fortunately enough, in this last game, we had a 6-1 lead after six innings,” Scherzer said. “And so that’s where we had the ability to be able to go out there and say, ‘Hey, that’s enough. Let’s take an easy blow for this one,’ so that way it helps stretch me out for the next start.”