MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Velocity OK, is location Scherzer's problem?

Nationals' ace continues to struggle since All-Star break, allowing four runs vs. Fish

Velocity OK, is location Scherzer's problem?

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer acknowledged that the losses are painful. He admitted that he made mistakes in the 4-3 defeat to the Marlins on Friday night.

Scherzer allowed two home runs, and they proved costly in a game Washington needed to win. With the first-place Mets losing, the Nationals remained 6 1/2 games back in the National League East.

"My offspeed stuff is right where it needs to be," Scherzer said. "Slider, changeup, curveball, they are all there. I'm not sitting here kicking chairs around because I'm frustrated how I pitched. My stuff is there. There are a couple of mistakes within my outing that I have to shore up.

"I have to keep that focus at 100 percent. I'm not saying I'm losing focus. I have to keep it dialed in, [keep that] hungry feeling going. You make little mistakes at this level, they make you pay."

Since the All-Star break, Scherzer has struggled, going 1-4 with a 5.09 ERA. That's a far cry from the dominant pitcher who no-hit the Pirates in May. There's nothing wrong with Scherzer's velocity. In fact, Scherzer averaged 95 mph with his fastball while allowing four runs on Friday.

Manager Matt Williams seems to think that Scherzer is having problems locating the ball.

Williams on Scherzer, Turner

"If I can tell the difference, it may be location," Williams said. "I think he is strong, reaching back for 98 tonight. I don't think there is an issue there. I know he feels good. Location is not as good as it was during that good streak that he had."

During his career, Marlins third baseman Martin Prado is 8-for-16 against Scherzer. One of those eight hits was a two-run homer in Friday's game. It wasn't a bad pitch that Prado hit. He golfed the ball on the inside part of the plate and hit it over the left-field wall.

Asked if he has seen a difference between Scherzer on Friday compared to July 30, when the ace pitched seven shutout innings against the Marlins, Prado said, "Not really. I don't call that struggle to be honest with you. I call it the right time. He might get hot one month. I might get hot the next month. One of the guys I respect the most is [Scherzer]. He always gives everything he has. Sometimes it doesn't go the way you want it. He was making real good pitches. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck at the right time to pitch well."

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.