2021 Los Angeles Dodgers Player Reviews: Max Scherzer

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

With a pressing need for starting pitching and in the midst of a competitive National League West race, the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a blockbuster trade to acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner.

The future Hall of Famer was the best pitcher available at the trade deadline last season despite being in the final year of his contract. There also was a minor injury concern as Scherzer missed a start due to right triceps trouble, but his audition before the deadline went off without a hitch.

In addition to the Dodgers, the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants were most prominently connected to Scherzer. He appeared bound for San Diego, but the Dodgers remained involved in talks and pulled off a stunner shortly after.

Excitement with the trade went into overdrive when Scherzer made his Dodgers debut against the Houston Astros. He allowed two runs, collected 10 strikeouts over seven innings and received a curtain call.

That marked the beginning of a dominant stretch as Scherzer pitched to a 0.88 ERA through eight starts. No other pitcher in MLB history had ever posted a lower ERA in their first eight outings with a team.

Scherzer did eventually experience some regression and dealt with hamstring tightness, but finished the season 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA, 1.96 FIP and 0.82 WHIP. The Dodgers won all 11 of his starts.

The end of the regular season also meant Scherzer set an MLB record by failing to reach safely in any of his 63 plate appearances on the year. The mark was previously held by Miami Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen, who didn’t reach in 49 plate appearances during the 2016 season.

Meanwhile, consecutive subpar performances to close out the regular season carried over into the playoffs as Scherzer labored and only managed to log 4.1 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Wild Card Game.

He bounced back in the NL Division Series, but a solo home run allowed to Evan Longoria on an unusually windy night at Dodger Stadium was the difference for the San Francisco Giants in their 1-0 win in Game 3.

Three days removed from throwing 110 pitches, Scherzer was back on the mound to face the Giants. He struck out two batters and converted a save in Game 5 of the NLDS.

While it put the Dodgers into the NL Championship Series, the relief appearance wound up compromising Scherzer’s health and arguably derailed the Dodgers’ postseason run. Lingering arm trouble prevented him from starting Game 1, and an extra day of rest didn’t pay much benefit.

Scherzer again threw 4.1 innings in a postseason start, and the Game 2 outing wound up being his last. Continued arm issues then prevented Scherzer from taking the ball in Game 6 and although he was confident in being able to do so for a winner-take-all scenario the following night, the Dodgers failed to extend the NLCS.

2021 highlight

Scherzer’s aforementioned outing against the Astros undoubtedly stands out as a memorable moment.

2022 outlook

After signing a record-setting contract with the New York Mets, Scherzer will now look to help the team rebound and get back into postseason contention.

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