Scherzer vs. deGrom: History shows Opening Day matchup will be tight originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Two of the greatest pitchers of their generation will go head-to-head Thursday night when Max Scherzer and the Nationals host Jacob deGrom and the New York Mets to kick off the 2021 season.
It’s a rare occurrence when two likely Hall of Famers match up against one another. However, Scherzer and deGrom hold the distinction of sharing the same division for the past six years. That’s given them the opportunity to face each other six times in their careers, providing a picture of what Thursday’s game might look like.
Hint: Don’t expect a high-scoring affair.
The Nationals and Mets are tied 3-3 in the games started by both aces since Scherzer joined Washington in 2015. Combined, the two clubs average just 2.4 runs per game in those contests with all but one of them being decided by two runs or fewer. The most recent such game was Sept. 26, 2020, when Scherzer outdueled deGrom and earned the win in a 4-3 victory for the Nationals.
Below is a look at how each pitcher has fared in games against each other.
Scherzer: 37 2/3 IP, (2-2), 3.58 ERA, 1.035 WHIP, 52 strikeouts, 10 walks, .668 OPS against
deGrom: 37 IP, (2-1), 3.16 ERA, 1.108 WHIP, 57 strikeouts, 10 walks, .707 OPS against
The margin between the two is razor thin, with neither pitcher distancing himself from the other. While Scherzer earned the win in the most recent contest, deGrom took the W in their sole Opening Day matchup. Washington played host to the Mets for Opening Day 2019, which New York won 2-0. Scherzer allowed just two runs with 12 strikeouts in seven and two-third innings of work but deGrom struck out 10 with no runs allowed over six frames to help the Mets to a season-opening win.
Scherzer enters the 2021 season as a 36-year-old in the final year of his contract. With no public momentum toward an extension, he will be tasked with proving he can still pitch at an elite level — and stay healthy doing it — as he prepares to hit free agency for just the second time in his career. Meanwhile, deGrom has taken over the title of best pitcher in baseball with two Cy Youngs and a third-place finish over the last three years.
It will be up to Scherzer to prove he can still go pitch for pitch with the hard-throwing right-hander. If history is any indication, fans will be in for a close one Thursday night.