The ERA leader in the major leagues will get a final chance to make his National League Cy Young Award case as Max Scherzer takes the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night against the visiting San Diego Padres.
Scherzer (15-4) has a 2.28 ERA in 29 starts this season, including a 1.43 mark in 10 starts since joining the Dodgers from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline in late July. Scherzer is 7-0 as a Dodger and has earned the win in his past 11 decisions after a 4-4 start in 2021.
The Dodgers (101-56) already have secured a playoff spot, but there figures to be no letting up for Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, who is trying to help the Dodgers make a late push for the NL West title.
Despite the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory over the Padres (78-79) on Tuesday, they still trail the first-place San Francisco Giants by two games with five to play.
In 15 career starts against the Padres, Scherzer is 6-2 with a 2.57 ERA and already has defeated them twice as a member of the Dodgers — and in dominating fashion. He went 7 2/3 scoreless innings on Aug. 26 and took a perfect game into the eighth inning on Sept. 12.
Scherzer enters Wednesday’s outing off his least effective start in a Dodgers uniform, when he gave up five runs on six hits over five innings in a no-decision against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday. The Dodgers pulled out a 7-5 victory in 10 innings and are 10-0 in Scherzer’s outings.
The five earned runs by Colorado matched what Scherzer gave up in first nine starts with the Dodgers.
Regardless of whether the Dodgers play in a one-game playoff for the division title, in the wild-card game, or in the opener of the division series, they are expected to have Scherzer on the mound in their first game following the regular-season finale Sunday.
“If we get to (Game 163), it’s good to know we’ve been in situations like this and gotten to the other side,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Having successes in pressure, stressful situations, having the experience is important.”
The Dodgers welcomed back Cody Bellinger (ribs) from the 10-day injured list Tuesday and hope the former MVP can turn around an injury-marred and unproductive season. Veteran slugger Albert Pujols went on the IL for side effects from his second COVID-19 vaccination shot.
The Padres, who were eliminated from playoff contention Saturday, will send left-hander Ryan Weathers (4-7, 5.01) to the mound Wednesday.
The 21-year-old rookie has not started since Aug. 28 and made his past five outings in relief, as the Padres are controlling his innings, officially at 91 2/3. In 10 2/3 innings against the Dodgers, Weathers has a 0.84 ERA.
The San Diego bullpen will get in some work Wednesday in relief of Weathers but figures to be without right-hander Craig Stammen, who was placed on the COVID-19 injured list Tuesday with flu-like symptoms.
“We’re playing for pride,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “I think it is a good chance as well for the guys in the lineup who are finishing their first full season. First and foremost, we want to get the guys to the finish line as healthy as we can so they can go into the offseason.”
–Field Level Media