Bill Ladson

Scherzer baffles Padres, amazes teammates

Right-hander in total control from start to finish

Scherzer baffles Padres, amazes teammates

SAN DIEGO -- Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper was amazed by what he saw from teammate Max Scherzer during the team's 4-1 victory over the Padres on Saturday night at Petco Park.

Scherzer has been on the team since January, and he is already showing that he is worth the $207 million the Nationals gave him. He is, by far, the team's best pitcher. His pinpoint control brings back memories of Greg Maddux. He has allowed eight walks in 56 2/3 innings, thus far.

Scherzer won his fourth game by pitching seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out 11. It marks the 28th time in his career he has had at least 10 strikeouts in a game. Scherzer didn't allow his first hit until the fourth inning when Matt Kemp singled to left-center.

"He's incredible. He is one of the best I've ever seen," Harper said. "Being able to play behind that and see his mentality, how fired up he gets. He is such a bulldog out there. It's all fun to watch. I'm glad he is on my team."

Scherzer was probably at his best with runners on base. San Diego's best chances to score off Scherzer were in the fourth and seventh innings. With the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth, Will Middlebrooks popped up to second baseman Danny Espinosa to end the threat. Three innings later, the Padres had runners on first and third with one out, but Austin Hedges and Abraham Almonte struck out to end the threat.

"To me, he is aggressive all the time, especially when he has runners in scoring position. He can do everything with the stuff he has -- slider, curveball, changeup," catcher Wilson Ramos said. "Everything was good. You can call every pitch on any count. It feels good because he has confidence in me, he has confidence in his pitches. I can call whatever I want."

Scherzer is humble when talking about how he fits in with the Nationals. He doesn't consider himself one of the leaders on the club.

"I'm just one of the guys here," Scherzer said. "Everybody goes out there, everybody has their own game, everybody has their own stuff. My job is to go out there every fifth day, compete and pitch as deep as I can. I've been able to do that this year. I give the team my best effort. If I do that, it can make me successful."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for 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.