Scherzer: the Biggest MLB All-Star Snub in 2021

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On Saturday, MLB announced the 2021 MLB All-Star reserves and pitchers for both the American and National Leagues. This comes just two days after MLB announced the starters for the game, which were decided by the fans and headlined by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. While the results were relatively well-received compared to previous years, there were a few controversial selections such as Baltimore Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins, who did not finish top three in the fan vote for outfielders.  

However, there was a key name missing from the All-Star pitchers and reserves announcement: Max Scherzer. The Washington Nationals starting pitcher, and future Hall-of-Famer, is in the midst of perhaps his best season in the majors as he has carried the load in the Nationals rotation. Although he will most likely be able to pitch in the game, as Jacob deGrom and Kevin Gausman are both in-line to pitch Sunday, it is puzzling how a player of his caliber failed to make his eighth consecutive all-star appearance (not including 2020). Here is why Max Scherzer might be the biggest all-star snub.  

Scherzer Hits Career Numbers in his Age 37 season

The three-time Cy Young award winner has had his fair share of dominant seasons over his career. In 2013, Scherzer won an MLB-leading 21 games with the Detroit Tigers and posted a 2.85 ERA. Then, in 2015, he threw two no-hitters, while having a ridiculous 8.12 strikeout to walk ratio with 276 strikeouts. Finally, from 2016-2019, Scherzer finished top three in Cy Young voting each year and won the award twice. During this stretch, he had a 300-strikeout season (2018) and three sub 1.00 WHIP seasons (2016-2018). 

But Max Scherzer’s 2021 season might be his most impressive to date. He is sporting a 2.10 ERA with 127 strikeouts in just 94 ⅓ innings pitched. In addition to his raw stats, Scherzer is posting career-highs in many categories. He possesses a minuscule .848 WHIP, surrenders just 5.6 hits per nine innings, and has a 180 ERA+, which are all career-highs. Not only does Scherzer stack up well relative to his career, but he also ranks high in virtually every category. In MLB, he is seventh in ERA, fourth in WHIP, and sixth in strikeouts 

In his 16 starts, Scherzer has pitched five innings and allowed one run or less in 10, a whopping 62.5% clip. He also has a complete game on his resume. These numbers would normally be a shoo-in for an all-star bid, but with the National League’s starting pitching depth, Scherzer was the odd-man-out. 

His Excellence over the Two Months

Another key component of all-star selections is his performance leading up to the all-star game. This is another category where Scherzer has excelled. Since May 6th, Scherzer has been magnificent. In 11 starts, he has delivered a 1.68 ERA and a .167 batting average against. His strikeout to walk ratio has also been solid as he struck out 89 batters to just 15 walks. While Scherzer did have a short stint on the 10-day IL with a groin injury, it was not a prolonged absence that would’ve made a significant impact on his All-Star hopes. Since returning from the IL, Scherzer has picked up where he left off, surrendering just three runs in 17 innings. 

One of Scherzer’s best two-start stretches in his career has also come this season. On May 2nd, Scherzer was on pace for a complete-game shutout against the Miami Marlins, but Isan Diaz hit a home run, so Scherzer settled for a complete game, one-run start. Then, in his next start, Scherzer struck out 14 batters at Yankee Stadium over 7 ⅓ and allowed just two hits. 

The “One All-Star per Team” Rule Most Likely Impacted Scherzer

Rivaling the shortstop position, starting pitching is one of the deepest positional groups in the National League. Jacob deGrom and Kevin Gausman have both had unbelievable seasons, which make them locks for All-Star selections. The Milwaukee Brewers tandem of Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff have also had strong seasons as Woodruff possesses a 1.87 ERA and Burnes has struck out 120 batters in 82 innings. Although Burnes had a rough patch in June, he got off to a blistering start this season as he didn’t walk a batter until his sixth start. Burnes would most likely be a toss-up with Scherzer for an All-Star position. Finally, Zack Wheeler has also been incredible for the Phillies with an MLB-leading 139 strikeouts.

The three starters who were most likely in a battle with Scherzer were Yu Darvish, Trevor Rodgers, and German Marquez. Darvish has built upon his Cy Young-caliber season last year, by posting a 2.65 ERA with 123 strikeouts in 102 innings. Like Burnes, Darvish would also be in the toss-up category. 

Trevor Rogers and German Marquez were the lone representatives from their respective teams at the all-star game. This most likely gave them the nod, although Rogers has a legitimate case. Rogers has a 2.14 ERA this season as a rookie and an ERA+ of 188. That is eight higher than Scherzer. German Marquez had had an odd season for the Colorado Rockies. He has been excellent at home, with a 3.06 ERA in 11 starts, but has struggled on the road as his ERA balloons to 4.67 in six starts. While he has had a very good season for the Rockies, he would most likely be the “most replaceable” player for Scherzer. 

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Players Mentioned:

Trevor Rogers, German Marquez, Zack Wheeler, Yu Darvish, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Isan Diaz, Max Scherzer,Jacob deGrom, Kevin Gausman, Cedric Mullins, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Fernando Tatis Jr.