Nationals Magazine: Opportunity Knocks

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The following is an excerpt from the Spring Training issue of Nationals Magazine. To read the full story, visit nationals.com/publications to find out how you can subscribe. The Spring Training issue of Nationals Magazine is on sale now, can be purchased online, or at Space Coast Stadium on gamedays.

by Mike Feigen

The Washington Nationals were already excited to get to Florida for Spring Training, with a loaded roster capable of making a run at an elusive World Series championship. Then they acquired the consensus top pitcher on the free agent market. Game on.

ST Cover socialBy now, as the Nationals celebrate their 10th Anniversary season, fans have surely discovered that baseball is a game that offers exuberant highs in the good times and tests one’s resolve in the down times. After a 162-game grind separates the best from the rest from April through September, 10 names are thrown into a hat and a champion is crowned. At least that’s the way it often seems in the Wild Card era.

In other words, nothing can be taken for granted. No amount of planning or preparation is guaranteed to produce the desired result. No team wins a World Series on paper. So even if President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo looked at his embarrassment of riches this offseason and saw a roster capable of earning the National League’s best record for the third time in four seasons, he wouldn’t rest.

For a team already loaded in the starting rotation, acquiring another quality arm would provide Rizzo cover for a variety of scenarios, including potential trades, free agent departures or injuries. It would also give the club yet another weapon to deploy during the regular season to try to help ensure it would find its way back into the unpredictable postseason tournament.

Max Scherzer isn’t just any pitcher, though. the 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander boasts a resume more complete than any other pitcher in the vaunted Nationals rotation, including an American League Cy Young Award, 91 wins, 1,321 career strikeouts in 1,239.1 innings pitched and appearances in 12 postseason games. He demonstrated durability during his five seasons in Detroit, starting no fewer than 31 games or reaching less than 187.2 innings in any single year with the Tigers.

“Whenever you can acquire a player of Max Scherzer’s ability level, character, and toughness on the mound, those opportunities are few and far between,” Rizzo said January 21 at Scherzer’s introductory press conference. “He fits all the criteria that we’re looking for in a Washington Nationals-type of player.

“He’s good between the lines, he’s a tough guy, he gets after it, he takes the ball (and) he attacks hitters. In the clubhouse (he’s a) magnificent teammate. In the community (he) does nothing but impress everybody he touches. He’s a guy who you can’t ask for more from. He’s the type of guy we’re looking for, and he’s the guy we went after very aggressively — and we strengthened a strength. Who wouldn’t want Max Scherzer on their club?”

ST Cover socialTo continue reading “Opportunity Knocks” on Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer, along with more great content from Nationals Magazine, please visit nationals.com/publications, or pick up a copy at the Main Clubhouse Team Store at Nationals Park or Space Coast Stadium, as well as inside Nationals Park on gamedays.

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