Madison Bumgarner

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Max Scherzer continues to be ridiculous. And underrated.

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Max Scherzer won the Cy Young Award last year and in 2013, but I still feel like he’s underrated somehow.

People know he’s great, but it’s not 100% guaranteed that people will mention his name quickly when they bring up the best starters in baseball, even though he’s clearly one of them. Kershaw is Kershaw. Madison Bumgarner gets a lot more press due to the World Series heroics. Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, David Price, Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke get mentioned more. Aces who have fallen off of their perch — like Felix Hernandez — get a lot of chatter too, for obvious reasons.

Scherzer, I feel, just flies under the radar. He’s just so reliable, I suppose, that his dominance is almost taken for granted. Whatever the reasons why, there aren’t as many conversations about Max Scherzer: future Hall of Famer as there should be.

Maybe I’m wrong about that and maybe I just miss all of those conversations. And maybe it doesn’t really matter too much. But man, it’s worth looking at what he’s been doing lately, because people aren’t talking too much about that either.

Scherzer allowed one run — unearned — and only three hits and two walks while striking out 14 Los Angeles Dodgers batters over seven innings last night, throwing 73 of his 105 pitches for strikes. And it’s not like this is something rare or new for him. It’s the third straight start in which he’s recorded double-digit strikeouts. It’s the sixth time in 12 starts he’s done so this year. He’s notched 11 or more strikeouts in five of his past seven starts dating back to May 4.

By every objective measure he’s having a better season in 2017 than he had in his Cy Young-winning 2016 season. He’s once again on a 20-win pace. His ERA is over half a run lower. His FIP is half a run lower. His strikeout rate is a full K per nine innings higher. His walk rate is holding steady. His home run rate is down. He leads the National League in games, innings, strikeouts, ERA+, WHIP, home run rate and strikeout rate. And, of course, he’s the ace for the team with the best record in the National League.

This is Max Scherzer’s fifth consecutive year of elite level performance, which is enough to constitute a Hall of Fame peak. He’s obviously not slowing down, however, so that peak may last for several more years. Given how reliable he is and healthy he has been, his overall counting stats are going to pad things out well too, which puts him on course for Cooperstown.

I think most people, if they stop to think about it, would acknowledge that. But I do want to remind most people to stop and think about it, because I’m fairly certain that Max Scherzer doesn’t get the raves he deserves.

Report: The Mets are interested in Doug Fister

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Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports that at least five teams have looked at free agent right-hander Doug Fister over the last week. Fister held a pitching showcase for interested teams last Thursday, which was attended by the Mets, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks and Angels. Per Cotillo, the Mets are considering inking Fister to a major league contract, though a clear frontrunner has yet to emerge for the right-hander’s services.

Fister, 33, is coming off of an unsuccessful stint with the Astros. He appeared to have made a full recovery after dealing with forearm tightness and shoulder issues in 2014-15, and signed a one-year, $7 million contract with Houston for the 2016 season. His results off the mound weren’t quite up to par, however, returning a career-worst 4.64 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and 5.7 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with the club.

The potential signing comes at a fortuitous moment for the Mets, whose rotation has taken a hit after losing Noah Syndergaard to a lat injury, losing Seth Lugo to a torn UCL, benching Matt Harvey for an undisclosed team policy violation and waiting out Steven Matz‘s lengthy recovery from left elbow inflammation.

They’re not the only team looking to patch holes, however. The Blue Jays and Angels’ rotations rank among the bottom 10 teams in the majors, while the Giants (another team to take a flyer on Fister last week) are struggling to keep their heads above water after losing Madison Bumgarner to a motorbike injury last month. The Diamondbacks are by far the most successful of Fister’s suitors, though Cotillo points out that they’re currently operating without right-hander Shelby Miller and could use the extra depth.

Video: Stephen Strasburg hits his first home run of the year

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Stephen Strasburg may not be the award-winning hitter he was in 2012, but that didn’t stop him from snapping a scoreless streak of 10 at-bats to go yard against the Phillies on Friday night. The Nationals’ right-hander skied a 1-2 pitch from Nick Pivetta to deep center field, clearing the bases to boost Washington’s lead to 2-0 in the second inning:

Strasburg is just the fourth pitcher to hit a home run in 2017, preceded by Adam Wainwright, Michael Lorenzen and Madison Bumgarner‘s homers in April. The blast marked his second career home run, and the first by a Nationals’ hurler since Mat Latos went deep against the Mets’ Rafael Montero last September. On the mound, Strasburg lasted 5 2/3 innings against the Phillies, allowing five hits, four walks and striking out five of 26 batters. The Nationals currently lead the Phillies 4-2 in the eighth.