MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Scherzer pitches with regular-season mindset

Nationals right-hander happy with execution in start against Astros

Scherzer pitches with regular-season mindset

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer looked like he was in midseason form in a 3-2 loss to the Astros on Sunday afternoon. He pitched four shutout innings, allowed one hit, struck out three batters and walked one.

Scherzer went into the game thinking it was the regular season. He focused more on the results rather than working on certain pitches. In the first inning, the right-hander wasn't afraid to throw a 3-2 slider to George Springer, who struck out.

"I thought I did some things really well," Scherzer said. "I made a little adjustment on my curveball. I thought I was very effective with it today, being able to throw it in the zone when I needed to.

"I was able to throw the slider when I needed to. I was able to go 3-2 offspeed three times. That's a good sign. Even when you are in those types of counts, you can still execute pitches. Those are the type of things that it takes to succeed during the year. That's why I'm happy with my performance today."

Scherzer talked about working with catcher Wilson Ramos, and he said it takes time for the two to get to know one another and get on the same page. In between innings, Scherzer and Ramos were going over certain situations.

"It's a conversation I keep having over and over," Scherzer said. "We'll have signs that we have during the year. So in-game, we were working on things [that could] happen throughout the course of the regular season."

Scherzer, who signed a seven-year, $210 million deal with the Nats in the offseason, said he is not thinking about being the Opening Day starter on April 6 against the Mets. Stephen Strasburg has received the nod the last three years. Manager Matt Williams has not announced who will get the start.

"I think everybody on the staff could make a case to be the Opening Day starter," Scherzer said. "That's the beauty of playing in Washington. There is talent everywhere. Everybody is great at what they do. It's going to be fun whoever gets it."

In his next start, Scherzer is expected to go five innings, according to Williams.

"Right now, he is right where he wants to be. He works hard. I like where he is at," Williams said. "Next time out, we are going to see if we can get him another inning. I'm not so much concerned about pitch count because he throws a lot of pitches."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.