Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louisian Scherzer Remains Confident in Struggling Nationals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louisian Scherzer Remains Confident in Struggling Nationals

Article excerpt

Max Scherzer had a typical Max Scherzer performance Sunday, hurling seven scoreless innings against the Cubs and striking out 11.

The Nationals had what's becoming a recurring Nationals meltdown. They led the Cubs 3-0 with two outs in the ninth inning, but David Bote hit a Ryan Madson fastball over the center-field wall for a grand slam. Just like that, Scherzer's gem was wasted.

At the beginning of the season, Fangraphs metrics gave the Nationals an 89 percent chance to make the postseason. Now they'd be lucky to finish with 89 wins. They have a sub-.500 record and a nine-game deficit behind the division-leading Braves in the National League East and seven games out in the wild-card chase.

"Look, I get what the standings say. You'd be living under a rock if you didn't know where we're at," said Scherzer, who went to Parkway Central and was an All-American at Mizzou. "But at the same time, I know on a day-to-day basis, when you look at each position that we have, I feel like we have a great, competitive player at each position."

The Nationals won 95 games or more in each of the past two seasons, and their core group of players returned for 2018.

Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner, refused to blame injuries for the Nationals' struggles, but the team has had its fair share. Half their starting position players have spent time on the disabled list: Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Wieters and Adam Eaton. Three of the team's top relievers are currently hurt, and starter Stephen Strasburg has pitched just one game since June 8.

Though he's been healthy all season, 2015 MVP Bryce Harper has a sub-.240 batting average and a WAR of just 1.2.

"Baseball is a funny game," Scherzer said. "Things can change on a dime. And even though this year has been kind of frustrating for us, I really do believe that we are playing our best baseball as of right now. …

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