ATLANTA — Given the way Max Scherzer has pitched in his last three starts, one hardly remembers he allowed four earned runs in each of his first two June outings. At times he seemed unlikely to allow a hit — let alone a run. Allowing eight runs in two starts? Inconceivable.
Scherzer finished June so well that he was named National League pitcher of the month for the second straight month despite looking mortal early. Over the course of his last three starts, he went 52 batters without allowing a hit, pitched 26 of a possible 27 innings and struck out 33. He did not allow a run for a stretch of 24 straight innings.
Seventeen National Leaguers have won the award in back-to-back months, most recently Clayton Kershaw in June and July of 2014. Jeff Fassero was the last player in franchise history to be so honored. He won the award in June and July of 1996 with the Montreal Expos.
“It’s great for him, great for us, means he’s pitching really well,” Nationals Manager Matt Williams said. “Just speaks to his preparation and his ethic and his desire to be good. You can’t argue with the performances, they’ve been off the charts. We hope for another one tonight”
Scherzer, who faces the Braves in the series finale Thursday night at Turner Field, seems like a lock for the National League all-star roster and a strong candidate to start the game. His 1.79 ERA is the second-lowest among major league starters, and his 4.2 WAR is a half a win higher than the next closest starter, Chris Sale. He leads all starters with a 2.01 fielding independent pitching (FIP) and is fourth with 130 strikeouts. He won his 100th game last weekend against the Phillies, the third pitcher to do so in a Nationals uniform.
He is the fifth Nationals pitcher to win the award, joining Chad Cordero, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann. He is the first to win it twice.