For Scherzers, crazy Sunday was just how they wanted it

Upon learning he would be pitching on opening day for the Nationals, Max Scherzer began preparing to face the Mets. Erica Scherzer began preparing to give birth to the couple’s third child.

“My wife, as soon as she knew that I was going to be opening day starter, she had already done the counting out days and knew I was going to be pitching either May 2 or May 4,” Max Scherzer said today during a Zoom session with reporters. “So it came down to asking (manager Davey Martinez): ‘All right, when are we actually going to do this?’ A couple weeks ago, we ironed out exactly what we wanted, and Davey wanted to maximize the number of days off after having a child. He thought that would be best for me.”

So it was that Max Scherzer found himself Sunday afternoon on the mound at Nationals Park against the Marlins while Erica Scherzer found herself heading to the hospital to get herself ready for a scheduled C-section later in the evening.

Max would proceed to throw a 106-pitch complete game that ended at 3:42 p.m. and immediately drove to the hospital.

And at 5:38 p.m., Erica gave birth to Derek Alexander Scherzer, the couple’s first son.

“That was pretty crazy,” Max Scherzer said. “I kind of like it that way. Erica did, too. She likes it like that.”

Indeed, if you thought the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer was an adrenaline junkie, you have no idea how much his wife shares that trait. A highly touted pitcher on the University of Missouri softball team nearly two decades ago, Erica May Scherzer has always been able to match her college sweetheart’s intensity and competitive drive.

Thumbnail image for Scherzer-Sweaty-Atlanta-Sidebar.jpg“She’s the rock of the household,” Max Scherzer said. “She keeps everything together. She knows everything that’s going on, really knows the game. Obviously, she’s been my better half, and she’s been with me through the thick and the thin, going through my whole career. She’s been a trooper with all the things we’ve had to deal with and all the sacrifices that have to be made to do this job. She makes them every single time. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. I’m lucky to have her for what she’s able to do. And Sunday’s just another example of it.

“I mean, as soon as I was named opening day (starter), she knew how that whole scenario was going to be going out and was in my ear: ‘Talk to Davey, talk to Davey, get this ironed out.’ “

Though he has spent the vast majority of the last few days at home with Erica, Derek, and young daughters Brooklyn and Kacey, Max Scherzer has found time to duck out to the ballpark to get his workouts and even a between-starts bullpen session in. He will travel with the club to New York tonight and is scheduled to start Saturday afternoon against the Yankees, not missing a beat.

“Everybody’s going to make a bigger deal out of this. We had done this with Kacey (in 2019),” he said. “We had our second child, we had an in-season baby knowing that you want to try to line up the pitching schedule to be able to pitch, and then you try to maximize the days you have after you start, so you don’t have to miss a start.”

For the Scherzers, this is all part of the routine. The rest of us mere mortals are left to marvel at it all.

And some day when he’s old enough to understand, Derek Scherzer will learn the full story behind his birthday.

“We’ll walk through that crazy day,” Max Scherzer said. “Hey, you were born in-season. I pitched that day. Complete game. And we won the game. That’s just a cool story to go with it. I’m sure he’ll be growing up in a baseball life, and he’ll be well aware of it.”

* Stephen Strasburg took an important step toward his return to the mound today when he threw 35 pitches over two innings in a simulated game at Nationals Park. The right-hander, out since April 18 with right shoulder inflammation, will probably make another such start early next week, according to Martinez, building up his pitch count.

Wander Suero also participated in today’s simulated game, throwing 22 pitches over one inning. The reliever, also out since April 18 with a left oblique strain, may now head out on a rehab assignment for new Triple-A affiliate Rochester, which suggests he shouldn’t be too far away from being activated off the 10-day injured list.

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