Arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now was once a La Crosse Logger.
Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer has struck out double-digit batters 10 times in 13 starts this season. The 33-year-old leads the league with 133 strikeouts. He’s 10-1 on the season — most wins of any pitcher — and is third in the majors with a 1.95 ERA.
“He has formed himself into, I think, very arguably, one of these best, if not the best pitcher in the game of Major League Baseball,” Loggers General Manager Chris Goodell said. “Of course, to be able to know him and his family and how special it is, it’s neat to see what he’s doing on the biggest stage of the game.”
Goodell says back in 2004, as a Logger, Scherzer was far from the Cy Young candidate he is now. Scherzer came in as a project, but they knew he had a big league arm.
“He struggled quite a bit his freshman season at Missouri,” Goodell said. “ He struggled with command and got hit around a little bit as a true freshman, which a lot of them do.
“That’s part of the process, having them come in here and develop right in front of our eyes.”
Scherzer was 19 years old heading into his sophomore season at Missouri when he spent that summer playing for the Loggers as a reliever.
“His first fastball popped the mitt at about 96 and everybody kind of sat back and said, ‘This is a little different. This is something special,’” Goodell said back after Scherzer struck out 20 batters in May of 2016.
This has been a special season for Scherzer. Not just because of the eye-popping numbers, but he also swiped his first bag since high school.
Pitchers Who Race. pic.twitter.com/VdSba3y4Ie
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 10, 2018
Oh, and he struck out struck out 10 and pitched a shutout during that game back in April — the first pitcher to accomplish all three feats in the same game since Nolan Ryan back on May 16, 1984.
The players in the majors that have gone through the Loggers system is solid, including Chris Sale of the Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers slugger Eric Thames. Sale and Scherzer faced off last season, named All-Star starters for their respective leagues.
Goodell says those names are definitely used during recruiting.
“Those names hold a lot of weight,” Goodell said. “Things we asked them to do on a daily basis once they’re here for the season, are very similar things we asked Max and Chris and Eric Thames to do when they were all here.”
Depending on the rotation, Scherzer could face the Brewers in Milwaukee during a three-game series July 23-25. Those games are just after the all-star break, so Scherzer would likely get the call July 24.