Max Scherzer Made History

Max Scherzer just threw a complete game in a victory over the Detroit Tigers. That’s not the important part. The important part is that the outs went like this:

  1. Foul out
  2. Strikeout
  3. Strikeout
  4. Strikeout
  5. Strikeout
  6. Strikeout
  7. Strikeout
  8. Strikeout
  9. Strikeout
  10. Strikeout
  11. Ground out
  12. Foul out
  13. Strikeout
  14. Strikeout
  15. Fly out
  16. Ground out
  17. Strikeout
  18. Strikeout
  19. Fly out
  20. Strikeout
  21. Strikeout
  22. Strikeout
  23. Strikeout
  24. Strikeout
  25. Strikeout
  26. Strikeout
  27. Fielder’s choice

Sorry, I just had to see them all laid out like that.

Max Scherzer struck out 20 batters, tying the major league record for a nine-inning start, and he walked none. The hits don’t matter. The runs don’t matter. Twenty big league hitters went to the plate against Max Scherzer tonight doing everything in their power to make contact, and 20 big league hitters failed. Scherzer’s the fifth pitcher in major league history to strike out 20 in a nine-inning game, joining Kerry Wood, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens (x2). Interestingly, all five 20 strikeout games were without a walk. When you’re locked in, you’re locked in.

He never needed more than 16 pitches to get through an inning. He touched 98 in the ninth. In traditional Scherzer fashion, he pounded the strike zone with his fastball, and against a Tigers lineup that featured seven right-handed batters, he used his slider like he’s never used his slider before. Scherzer threw 37 sliders, a career-high for a single game. The Tigers swung 21 times. They whiffed 10 of those times. Scherzer didn’t need the cutter. He didn’t need the curve. He barely needed the changeup. When you’re as good as Max Scherzer was tonight, the fastball and the slider will do.

He threw 119 pitches. Ninety-six of them were strikes. I’m going to show you a graphic to give you some time to digest that number, and we’ll revisit it momentarily.

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He threw 96 strikes in 119 pitches. 96! 119!

Since the expansion era began in 1961, Scherzer’s the only pitcher with at least 96 strikes in fewer than 120 pitches. His rate of strikes thrown has been topped just four times since the expansion era began in 1961:

Highest strike rate, minimum 100 pitches, 1961-present

  1. Curt Schilling, 9/20/02, 82.5%
  2. Roy Halladay, 8/25/12, 81.9%
  3. David Wells, 4/19/01, 81.0%
  4. David Wells, 8/30/97, 80.7%
  5. Max Scherzer, 5/11/16, 80.7%

Max Scherzer just threw one of the all-time dominant games baseball’s ever seen. I’ll have a full writeup in the morning (that post is now live and can be found here), but for now, enjoy yourself some fun facts and tweets:

Jonah Pemstein contributed to this post.

We hoped you liked reading Max Scherzer Made History by August Fagerstrom!

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August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at august.fagerstrom@fangraphs.com.

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cleverusername
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cleverusername

so glad he’s on my fantasy team