Fantasy Outlook: Max Scherzer
2015 Season Recap
Last year, Max Scherzer was everything that the Nationals had hoped when they signed him to a seven-year, $210M contract. He made 33 starts, tossing 228 2/3 innings with a career-best 2.79 ERA. He threw four complete games (three shutouts) including a memorable 17-strikeout no-hitter in his final start of the season.
The 31-year-old recorded 276 strikeouts at a dominating 10.86 SO/9. After slipping in 2014, his command returned with a career-best 0.918 WHIP and just 1.6 BB/9. Despite these stellar stats, Scherzer finished with a 14-12 win-loss record – the most losses he has suffered in a single season.
2016 Season Outlook
Scherzer has struck out 999 batters over the last four years. Only Clayton Kershaw has more strikeout victims (1,001). With three straight seasons of at least 210 innings and 240 strikeouts with a 2.78 FIP, there is no doubt that Scherzer is an ace.
He is capable of leading any fantasy starting rotation in any format. The right-hander utilizes five plus pitches with a fastball that averages 93-94 MPH, and he is pitching in one of the weakest divisions with the rebuilding Phillies and Braves. He was unlucky to be tagged with 12 losses last year, so regression to the mean should enable him to be back in the NL Cy Young discussion.
He should benefit from a minor upgrade in the infield defense, with new acquisition Daniel Murphy being a slight upgrade at second base and Anthony Rendon being a significant improvement over Yunel Escobar at third base. When it comes to picking your first pitcher, Jake Arrieta, Chris Sale, Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner and David Price are all solid picks, but Scherzer has displayed a more proven record to justify being the second pitcher off the board.