WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- These starts are supposed to be a tuneup for Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer, but the reigning two-time National League Cy Young Award winner was already in dominant form during Tuesday night's 7-4 victory over the Mets.Scherzer overwhelmed New York's split-squad lineup through five scoreless innings
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- These starts are supposed to be a tuneup for Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer, but the reigning two-time National League Cy Young Award winner was already in dominant form during Tuesday night's 7-4 victory over the Mets.
Scherzer overwhelmed New York's split-squad lineup through five scoreless innings with nine strikeouts, while giving up only one hit. He threw 75 pitches and each seemed sharper and crisper than the last. It was the kind of dominant performance the Nationals have become accustomed to seeing from Scherzer, but the kind rarely seen on March 13.
"I think he does a great job of keeping Spring Training games from being monotonous to where he's just going out there and not getting better," catcher Matt Wieters said. "I think he's always trying to get better. He really likes doing it. He knows in the Spring Training setting, it's OK if he gives up a couple of runs or gives up a couple hits because he's trying to do something that will help him throughout the season."
Scherzer focused on attacking the strike zone Tuesday night. He prided himself in the fact that he fell behind to only two hitters by his count on the night. Although it was only briefly, Scherzer even got to work from the stretch and was proud of the curveballs he threw to Wilmer Flores to escape the only situation resembling a jam all night.
This is the second season Wieters has worked with Scherzer as a catcher, and even he marveled at the way Scherzer has been able to prepare himself through the spring for the season.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
"I think he takes it to another level," Wieters said. "I bet he's dreaming of stuff in the offseason, three months before he gets here, of things he's going to do."
Scherzer still has about three more starts left before he prepares himself for what should be an Opening Day start in Cincinnati in a little more than two weeks. But not many pitchers are able to replicate intensity better than Scherzer for a Spring Training game.
"Five innings tonight, first four you're good, then the fifth inning you're kind of fatigued," Scherzer said. "So when you get in those situations, when you are pitching through the fatigue, getting up to the pitch counts you haven't been at yet, you've got to still go through those at 100 percent even though your body's tired."
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.