Max Scherzer is struggling when the Nationals need him most

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Max Scherzer was having a Cy Young-caliber season through the end of July, throwing 150 innings with a 2.22 ERA and 172/19 K/BB ratio.

He’s been a mess ever since.

Scherzer struggled Monday afternoon against the Mets, serving up three homers and a total of five runs in six innings, and combined dating back to August 1 he now has a 6.08 ERA in seven starts.

He continues to have an outstanding 53/7 K/BB ratio in those seven starts, suggesting that Scherzer’s raw stuff remains just fine, but keeping the ball in the ballpark has been a huge issue. During that rough stretch Scherzer has allowed 11 homers in 40 innings. By comparison, he allowed a total of 13 homers in his first 150 innings this season and gave up fewer than 20 homers in each of the previous two years.

Mets television analyst Ron Darling was convinced during Monday’s game that Scherzer’s mechanics were out of whack, causing his arm angle to drop and his pitches to flatten out in the strike zone.

Scherzer’s overall performance is right in line with his recent career norms, including a 3.03 ERA that fits with his 3.02 ERA for the Tigers in 2013/2014, but their ace falling apart down the stretch isn’t what the Nationals had in mind when they spent $210 million on him as a free agent.