Max Scherzer making clever pitches for pinch-hitting duties
Given that Max Scherzer openly — and apparently jokingly — campaigned earlier this season against pitchers hitting in the National League, relegating the practice to the annals of baseball history, it’s surprising that the Washington Nationals ace apparently openly — and again perhaps jokingly — campaigns for pinch-hitting duties. Even better, he does so in a comically creative manner: By leaving his batting stats on the desk of manager Matt Williams.
“He’s constantly in my ear about getting pinch-hit opportunities,” Williams said during an interview Wednesday on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio channel, as transcribed by D.C. Sports Bog. “I receive on occasion a sheet on my desk, from him, that let’s me know what his career numbers offensively are against a certain guy. But, you know, it’s fun. He’s lighthearted, except for the day he pitches. That being said, I think he is also talking to the starters about what we want to accomplish as a team, as a starting staff. He certainly leads by example, we’ve seen that. So I think he just loves to play.”
Scherzer is a career .157 hitter, but has been on a hot streak of late, comparatively speaking. He had four hits in 10 at-bats in the month of June to raise his season average to .257 in 35 at-bats. Perhaps most fascinating is this mind-blowing statistic: In the back-to-back games where Scherzer pitched a one-hitter and a no-hitter, he had more hits (two) then the two teams he shut down so brilliantly.
All told, Scherzer, despite his recent “torrid” hot streak at the plate, will do most of his damage while toeing the rubber as opposed to digging into the batter’s box. But that doesn’t mean Williams doesn’t appreciate Scherzer’s somewhat whimsical need to do whatever it takes to help the Nationals win ballgames.
“He’s a baseball player,” Williams said. “Yeah, he’s a pitcher, and he pitches for us, but he also does other things on the field that helps us win, too. I think he’s been a fantastic addition, not only because he’s a great pitcher, but for what he brings to the clubhouse as well.”
Between his insistence at trying to get some at-bats and how he began the now-infamous tradition of Nationals players dousing teammates in chocolate syrup during celebratory and sticky post-game revelry, the acquisition of Scherzer this past offseason is paying incredible dividends.