Dan's Dugout: Can Scherzer Win 300? Can Anyone? • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Can Scherzer Win 300? Can Anyone?


FLUSHING, NY – Hours before the Nationals parlayed a six-run eighth into an 8-6 triumph over the Mets, there was clubhouse buzz about Max Scherzer.

Max Scherzer has a 33% chance to win 300 games

One centered on the somewhat amazing coincidence that his turn to pitch did not come up in any of the six April meetings between the two National League East contenders.

But the second focused on the pitcher’s long-shot bid to win 300 games.

Nobody has done that since Randy Johnson in 2009 and, with pitch counts and five-man rotations in vogue across the majors, he could be the final member of the 24-man 300 Club.

Not so fast, say Scherzer fans. The 32-year-old righthander has the best shot of any active pitcher, according to The 2018 edition of The Bill James Baseball Handbook.

Bartolo Colon entered this season with 240 wins, most of any active pitcher, but he’ll be lucky to break the Dennis Martinez mark of wins by a Latino pitcher (245). Even though he gave the Texas Rangers seven perfect innings on Sunday, Colon turns 45 on May 24 and suffered a lost season in 2017 when he was bogged down by too much weight and too many innings pitched.

CC Sabathia, at 36, is considerably younger but has only a 6 per cent shot at 300 wins, according to James. The veteran lefthander of the New York Yankees entered the season with 237 but went on the all-too-familiar disabled list in early April. Like Colon, he has battled weight issues, not to mention bad knees and oversized hats.

Justin Verlander, 34, needs 12 wins this year for 200 lifetime but is probably too far away – even though his Houston Astros offer the best batting support of any club in the big leagues.

Justin Verlander is a long-shot for 300 wins
Credit: Lisa Luevanos

Clayton Kershaw, star southpaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is just 29 but his record before this year was 144-64. That gives him less of a chance than former teammate Zack Greinke, who took 172 wins into his age-33 season.

Don’t even think about Boston strikeout machine Chris Sale, a 28-year-old southpaw with 91 wins through last year, or John Lackey, a 38-year-old righthander not offered a contract for 2018.

That brings us back to Scherzer, who has two no-hitters and three Cy Young Awards. James, the world’s first sabermetrician, says the odds of him reaching 300 wins are 33 per cent – the highest of any current pitcher.

Scherzer has made at least 30 starts in each of the last nine years and seems to be improving with age. His ERA from 2013-17 was 2.87 and it’s better this year. He’s even one of the handful of pitchers with a complete-game shutout in this Age of the Bullpen.

So far this year, Scherzer has a 1.33 earned run average and league-high 38 strikeouts. He’s been a major factor in Washington’s ability to maul the Mets at CitiField (44-16 since 2012).

But, then again, Scherzer pretty much has his way with everybody. But unlocking the iron-clad gate to the 300 Club may be beyond his reach.

Winning 300 is not easy; it requires 20 years of 15 wins or 15 years of 20 wins. Few pitchers reach 20 wins anymore. Four pitchers won 18 each last year but that was the most in the majors.

Scherzer has won 20 games twice and at least 14 for seven successive seasons. He’s won consecutive strikeout crowns and could extend that string to three this fall. But strikeouts don’t equal wins.

Warren Spahn had 382 complete games

Gone are the days when pitchers were expected to finish what they started. Warren Spahn had more complete games (382) than wins (363) because he hit so well that his team didn’t need to pinch-hit. Now, pitchers don’t even bat in the American League – a development that has made winning 20 even more difficult in the AL.

Megabucks contrast are also a deterrent to 300-game winners. Pitchers make so many millions that many of them (see Mike Mussina) retire even when they have a clear shot at the coveted magic circle.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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