Scherzer Back on Track in 4th AFL Start

Max Scherzer rebounded to make a strong start on Thursday, throwing seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball to notch his first win of the Arizona Fall League. His Desert Dogs romped the Peo Javelinas 13-1.

Max Scherzer earned something on Thursday that has been surprisingly difficult for him to come by: a victory.  The 24-year old phenom garnered just one win in 29 outings between Triple-A and the majors this season.

"I just go out there and do the best I can," Scherzer shrugged. "You can't control results. So as long as I'm prepared and do my best, things will take care of themselves. I'm working hard in the offseason to be prepared, and I'll be happy with the results."

Scherzer, whose fastball hit 95 mph even this late in a long year, leads the Fall League with 24 strikeouts and 24 innings as of the AFL Rising Stars game, the unofficial midway point of the league in which fellow Diamondbacks prospect Rusty Ryal started.

"I was very aggressive with the fastball," Scherzer said after the 13-1 win. "They're an aggressive hitting team, and I wanted to go right after them. I tried to balance my offspeed stuff with the fastballs. I'm here to get some more starts under my belt and get a better feel for things."

Indeed, Scherzer participated in the Fall League in part to gain the innings he missed this summer, when he was shut down for four weeks because of shoulder tightness that did not require surgery.  The Diamondbacks have impressed upon Scherzer the need to continue to develop his secondary pitches: a hard slider and a changeup. He has seemed to gain comfort and command of those pitches as the Fall League continues. 

Scherzer allowed just one run over his seven innings of work, a two-out, first inning solo shot surrendered to Yankees prospect Austin Jackson.  He scattered two hits and one walk over the next six frames.

Fellow Diamondbacks prospect Evan Frey chipped in with three hits and scored twice as the Dogs' leadoff man, while D-backs catching prospect John Hester went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI to raise his AFL average to .438.  Ryal struck out in a pinch hit appearance before going 0-for-2 in the Rising Stars game Friday.

Overall for the Fall League, Scherzer is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA.  Any doubt that he would be a stable part of the Diamondbacks' 2009 rotation has been erased by his dominant AFL performance.  Bouncing around between starter and reliever, Phoenix and Tucson this season did not seem to bother the power right-hander, however.   

"It was great," Scherzer said of his first taste of the majors. "You work so hard all your life to get there and I was very thankful to be given a shot. I enjoyed every day and it was great to be around them and to be able to watch what they do."

"Everyone in the major leagues has good stuff, but it's about how and when you use it," he added. "I was able to watch (Dan) Haren and Randy (Johnson) and Doug (Davis) and how they use each pitch in each spot. Even though we may not have the same stuff, it helped me to see what they think about attacking hitters with their own stuff."

With Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Doug Davis under contract for 2009, Scherzer is in line to be either the fourth or fifth starter, depending on whether Randy Johnson returns. Johnson, 45, is a free agent after his two-year contract expired at the conclusion of 2008. He has 295 career victories. The D-backs are not expected to offer Johnson arbitration because the award could come in over their budget projection.

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