LOS ANGELES – Even before they were teammates, Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner knew how good Max Scherzer was, with everything the mountaineer had accomplished throughout his career.
But when Turner took the field Oct. 2, 2015, against the Mets, in just his seventh start and his second with Scherzer on the mound, Turner realized why the right-hander has an assured place in the Hall of Fame.
That day, Scherzer pitched his second no-hitter of that season.
“I saw it there,” Turner recalls the moment he realized that Scherzer was different. “I think, in the last couple of years, I have realized how good he is, because every five days he is there competing. It is not that others do not, but it is something difficult to achieve ”.
That intensity will be at its best on Wednesday, when he takes the mound for the Dodgers in the defining National League Wildcard Game against the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium.
“Obviously, you see him dominating from afar,” said Los Angeles patrolman Mookie Betts. “But playing behind him is a lot of fun. It is impressive to be a witness of the greatness ”.
Since joining the Dodgers, Scherzer has been virtually untouchable. In his first nine starts with the club, he struck out 79 and was 7-0 with a 0.78 ERA. However, in his last two appearances he allowed five runs against the Rockies on September 23 and six (five earned) against the Padres, respectively.
Despite those two tough starts, Scherzer finished another solid regular season at age 37, finishing with a 2.47 ERA. You have the opportunity to join an exclusive group with a fourth Cy Young Award. Not for nothing did Dodgers manager Dave Roberts call Scherzer “the best pitcher in baseball” and did not hesitate to point him out as the Wild Card Game manager.
“We feel very comfortable with Max on the hill,” Roberts said. “I always talk about betting on your players, and he’s an easy guy to back up.”
And boy did the Dodgers bet on Scherzer. To acquire alongside Turner on the trade deadline from Washington, Los Angeles had to give up four prospects, including two of its best, right-hander Josiah Gray and Venezuelan wide receiver Keibert Ruiz.
It’s a gamble, understanding that Scherzer will be a free agent after this season. But the reality is that they needed it. At that time, the club did not have Clayton Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin. In addition, Trevor Bauer was separated from the team under administrative leave.
When Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called him to say there was a deal ready to send him to Los Angeles, Scherzer agreed. The monticular has participated in two World Series, winning the one in 2019 with Washington and they lost the other with the Tigers in 2012. He saw the opportunity that the Dodgers had and wanted to be part of it.
“It’s what you play for,” Scherzer said. “You don’t dream of losing, you want to be a winner. When you have a chance to win a World Series, you realize how exciting it is, including all the celebration. There is a big difference between finishing first or second. I have experienced both, winning and losing. And winning is much better ”.
The Dodgers’ postseason road begins Wednesday with Scherzer on the mound. It’s exactly why he came to Los Angeles in July. Whether or not the Dodgers win will be decided on the field. But one thing is certain, Scherzer will be with his usual attitude and ready to race. As always.
“He’s going to be a psycho either way,” Turner said. “It’s a bit different on the days it opens. He is very nice and kind, but you have to see him angry ”.