The last time Max Scherzer (8-5, 1.76 ERA) was on the mound, he was near perfection. He will try for a third-straight, All-World start tonight when the Washington Nationals (40-33, 18-19 Away) visit the worst team in the MLB, the Philadelphia Phillies (26-48, 17-19 Home), today at Citizens Bank Park (7:05 PM Eastern).
Scherzer was so close to a perfect game (and proving us right) in the 6-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 20, but he plunked the last batter he faced, still managing to end with a no-hitter while adding ten strikeouts. Scherzer admitted that not getting the perfect game was a bit of a letdown.
“I mean there is, just because you’re so close, one strike away from a perfect game,” Scherzer said to the Associated Press. “But to get a no-hitter in front of these fans, there’s nothing better.”
That start came on the heels of a 16-strikeout, complete game shutout of the Brewers. In total, Scherzer has won seven of his last nine outings and he will look to continue his dominant run against the Phillies terrible lineup, which ranks: 30th in runs, 29th in on-base percentage, and 29th in slugging percentage.
The Phillies will try and match Scherzer with right-hander Aaron Harang (4-9, 3.41 ERA). The 37-year-old hasn’t won since May 14, and has been rocked lately, giving up six home runs and 15 earned runs over his last three starts. Bryce Harper should be licking his lips: the Nats outfielder has already hit four of his 24 home runs on the year against the Phillies.
This matchup has all the makings of a beatdown: the best pitcher currently in baseball against the worst offense and a great batting order against a struggling pitcher. The Nationals should win by more than five runs, so feel free to grab them in the handicap.
Pick: Nationals (-205).
(Photo Credit: Corn Farmer (Originally posted to Flicker)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/])