The crowd’s roar brought a high-voltage vibe, with resounding cheers from cacophonous Dodger fans climbing to a crescendo on Wednesday night. When Max Scherzer trotted out of the dugout to the pitcher’s mound, the Dodger Stadium crowd erupted in delight. The fans, dressed in Dodger blue, was warm and welcoming and impeccably kind, and Scherzer was grateful for the fantastic reception he received in his first game with his new team.
Five days after being traded to the Dodgers, Scherzer made his first appearance in a Dodger uniform. The much-anticipated debut of the Dodgers’ newly-minted right-hander was a smashing success. The three-time Cy Young winner was nothing short of dominant against the Houston Astros…cough, cough…the cheaters. He turned in a superb seven-inning, 10 strikeout performance in the Dodgers’ sweet 7-5 victory over the team that deprived them of the 2017 World Series title.
It was a vintage Scherzer outing, with him pounding the strike zone early and often. In control from the start, he pitched, well, like his ace self and the Dodgers potent offense did just enough to put up runs on the board. His command and control was impeccable as he added to a stat sheet that continues to impress. He showed the best parts of himself and a deep arsenal of pitches that he demonstrate, and vaulted himself into the top cluster of Dodgers pitchers, after just one start with the club.
Scherzer, a true ace, struck out the first batter he faced, scorned Jose Altuve, before allowing a home run to Michael Brantley with one out in the top of the first inning. He settled in well and finished off his masterpiece on a dominant note by keeping the Astros’ potent lineup off balance with his blazing fastball that averaged 95.2 mph. Another round of cheers greeted Scherzer as he smoked a fastball past Chas McCormick on his 109th and final pitch of the night. Then he unleashed a primal scream, he walked into a wall of cheers as he left the mound, the fans showered him with a long standing ovation, and he waved to the crowd.
Scherzer’s new teammates welcomed him back to the home dugout by plenty of high fives and slaps on the back. After he disappeared, the fans remained on their feet, they begged him for a curtain call. He emerged from the dugout and took it for the roaring and adoring Dodger faithful, sending the crowd noise to another level.
His outstanding start was memorable, well received and, ultimately, electrifying, and it was quite fitting that the Dodgers hosted the sign-stealing, cheating Astros. This was a housewarming party for him and he felt plenty relaxed in his new uniform, as a curious Dodger Stadium crowd, the largest since before the pandemic, added a measure of comfort. The atmosphere created by the fans was more equivalent to a Game 7 than a typical summer night at the ballpark. Still, on a night in which he had excellent run support, the game ball indeed belonged to Scherzer. He earned the win, improving to 9-4 on the season. Staying true to fashion, he was unhittable, getting 17 swings and misses. It was truly the coolest scene that had come to nearly sum up the notion that Scherzer is now an integral part of the Dodgers’ World Series plans.
To satisfy their need and strengthen their pitching rotation, the Dodgers then decided to add Scherzer. From Washington, he was shipped to Los Angeles on a whirlwind day of trades. A midseason trade for Scherzer represents a massive upgrade for the defending champions. His acquisition, surely, would validate and legitimize the deal the Dodgers got done if they can duplicate 2020. If they somehow go on to win it all again, then parting with some of their top prospects wouldn’t feel like a bit of a lost cause.
All of this is to say that he definitely fits the mold of guys with elite arms, and that’s something the Dodgers have. So perhaps someone like Scherzer could be a worthwhile addition, and after just one start with his new club, that much was made obvious. There’s no reason not to buy into them as contenders, especially after acquiring a high-profile starter to go in a rotation with Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw. One of the greatest pitchers of his generation, Scherzer is the right piece that will put the Dodgers back over the top.
What more can you say about Scherzer? All of his stuff was working, and as expected, he delivered. Right now, the reality has matched the expectation. Of course, nothing can be further from the truth. The Dodgers saw this as an opportunity to land the biggest prize on this year’s market and did what they needed to do by solidifying their starting rotation. The move was stunning, but now it makes a lot of sense. The game itself, for the most part, was only an appetizer. Pretty damn good! But the Dodgers are still not done yet, and still have a not more winning to do to fully satisfy their hunger.
The remainder of the season is sure to be a real treat, be it because the Dodgers just got a whole lot better.
Welcome to L.A., Mad Max.