Scherzer is undoubtedly one of the best pitchers of his generation and his career has included many moments that most other pitchers would be lucky to call their best performance ever. But with Scherzer, some of those games are just another day at the office.
Max Scherzer best games
But what have been Scherzer’s best games in what will surely be a Hall of Fame career? What are the games that stand out above the rest? Frankly, it could take a while to name every time that Scherzer has impressed us. However, we were able to narrow it down to a ranking of the 10 best performances of Max Scherzer’s career.
10. Debut in the Majors
It’s only fair to start with Scherzer’s MLB debut, which was quite impressive and a sign of things to come. In April 2008, Scherzer came out of his bullpen for his first career appearance while playing with the Diamondbacks.
He ended up tossing 4.1 perfect innings, retiring the first 13 batters he faced, striking out seven of them. While somewhat forgotten, it was the first sign that he was a special pitcher.
9. Brilliant with a broken nose
Just one day after fouling a ball off his face, getting a black eye and a broken nose in the process, Scherzer stepped onto the mound and pitched a gem. That was the situation in June 2019 when Scherzer pitched against the Phillies.
Despite the broken nose and the black eye, Scherzer threw seven scoreless innings and struck out 10 against the Phillies, who were one of the best teams in the National League at the time.
8. Return to Detroit
Scherzer pitched for the Tigers from 2010 to 2014 but didn’t return to Comerica Park until 2019. It took him a long for his return but it ended up being one of the greatest Scherzer starts.
Scherzer and the Nationals won 2-1 after he gave up just one run on four hits over eight innings, striking out 14.
7. Gem in Dodgers debut
After getting traded to the Dodgers in 2021, Scherzer was amazing down the stretch. Some of Scherzer’s best games came with the Dodgers, including his debut in Los Angeles.
While facing the Astros, who would eventually reach the World Series, Scherzer allowed just two hits against a loaded Houston lineup, striking out 10 and making a great first impression with his new team.
6. NLCS dominance
Scherzer was excellent throughout the 2019 postseason, ultimately helping the Nationals win the World Series. But his best game of that postseason was arguably Game 2 of the NLCS.
Scherzer maintained a no-hitter against the Cardinals into the seventh innings, looking in complete control. He ended the game with 11 strikeouts over seven innings, giving up just one hit and two walks
5. Game 7 starter
To be fair, Scherzer was far better in Game 2 of the NLCS in 2019 than he was in Game 7 of the World Series. However, Game 7 of the World Series was surely the more important game and Scherzer was the one to get the ball for the Nationals.
Keep in mind he had to be scratched from Game 5 a few days earlier because of neck spasms.
After a cortisone shot, he was able to gut it out, although nobody could be sure if Scherzer would be at his best.
While he was far from perfect, given the circumstances, it’s hard to ask for more out of Scherzer, who lasted five innings, holding the Astros to just two runs despite giving up seven hits and four walks. It was enough to set up Patrick Corbin to take over and give the Nationals the Game 7 victory.
4. Reaching 3,000 strikeouts
In September 2021, not only did Scherzer become the 19th pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts, he did so in style. During his start against the Padres, Scherzer threw the third immaculate inning of his career, a record he shares with Chris Sale and Sandy Koufax.
On top of that, Scherzer was perfect through 7.1 innings, rarely looking more dominant than the game in which he crossed the 3,000 strikeout barrier. For the record, his 3,000th strikeout came against Eric Hosmer, who ironically broke up the perfect game in the 8th inning.
3. Second no-hitter
Without question, one of Max Scherzer’s best games was the second no-hitter of his career and his second of the 2015 season. It’s fair to say that it came against the Mets, who were already crowned NL East champs that year and didn’t put their best foot forward.
But that doesn’t change how dominant Scherzer was that day. He struck out 17 batters with the only base runner reaching via error, meaning Scherzer was one defensive mistake away from a perfect game.
2. 20 strikeouts
On May 11, 2016, Scherzer did something that only three other pitchers in big league history have accomplished, striking out 20 batters in a nine-inning game. Ironically, he did so against the Tigers, the team he left less than two years earlier.
While he also gave up a pair of solo home runs, Scherzer threw a complete game, striking out 20 and walking none. He joined Roger Clemens, Kerry Wood, and Randy Johnson as the only other pitchers to strike out 20 in nine innings.
1. First no-hitter
It’s hard not to consider his first no-hitter as the best start of Scherzer’s career. After all, there’s nothing like the first time.
In fact, he was even closer to a perfect game than he was during his second no-hitter. While pitching against the Pirates, Scherzer retired the first 26 batters he faced and had two strikes against Jose Tabata. But Tabata leaned into a pitch, getting hit on the elbow. Scherzer finished off the no-hitter with the next batter, striking out 10 and coming up one strike short of a perfect game.