JABO: Max Scherzer and the Benchmarks of Greatness

Whether or not you think Jose Tabata intentionally moved his elbow into the path of Max Scherzer’s two-out, ninth-inning curveball this past Saturday, the final result stood as an example of a very rare phenomenon: a perfect game broken up on the would-be final out of the game. While still securing the no-hitter put Scherzer firmly into the record books, the history of the almost-perfecto is incredibly interesting in its own right, as is the unparalleled dominance the Nationals right-hander has shown in his past two starts.

Scherzer now has a distinct place in the discussion of historic pitching performances. We should make sure to put the emphasis on the plural of the word performance, because Scherzer just put together arguably the best back-to-back outings by a starting pitcher since at least 1914. His final combined line for his starts on June 14th and 20th:

18.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 26 K

Scherzer faced 57 batters over his two starts: he struck out just under 46% of them. To put that in context, he had a better strikeout rate over the entirety of two consecutive complete games than Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, or Dellin Betances have in their relief appearances this season. By the numbers, he was more or less the equivalent of facing the best closer in baseball on a particularly dominant day for two entire games.

Read the rest on Just a Bit Outside.

Owen Watson writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @ohwatson.

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7 years ago

What an incredible time it is to be a person who actually pays attention to the games. On-top of A-Rod getting hit #3K this past weekend, Scherzer flirts with perfection and puts on the best back-to-back outings of all time. I’m eagerly anticipating his next start against the Phillies. Not to jinx it, but he will likely go for another no-no against their pitiful lineup. http://twtwsports.blogspot.com/2015/06/forg1v3-never-forget-a-rod-scherzer.html

Doug Lampert
7 years ago
Reply to  TWTW

Johnny Vander Meer says “Hi!”

Scherzer’s starts are very good, but only the best consecutive by game score, which is far from a perfect measure.

7 years ago
Reply to  Doug Lampert

Read the article. Vander Meer walked 11 over his two no-hitters. People who still value archaic stats like pitcher wins will place his performance above that of Scherzer, despite the fact that Scherzer’s put together the most dominant back-to-back performances in the history of the game.

7 years ago
Reply to  messmer4mayor

I value pitcher W’s, but Scherzer’s performance was still historically outstanding.