LOS ANGELES (AP) — Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw were part of the same draft class. Now they get to be on the same team.
In his first comments since being acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers from the Washington Nationals in a blockbuster trade last Friday, Scherzer said he’s eager to team up with Kershaw and join a talented rotation as the defending World Series champions try to overtake the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
“It’s been great to compete against him. And you know, you push yourself to try to try to match what he can do. Now we get to be on the same team and actually compete for the same prize,” Scherzer said before Tuesday night’s game against Houston.
Scherzer is set to make his Dodgers debut on Wednesday night when he faces the Astros.
Scherzer was the 11th overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2006 amateur draft while Kershaw went seventh to the Dodgers. Both have been among the pre-eminent pitchers of their generation. Each has won three Cy Young Awards and made appearances in eight All-Star games.
They won’t team up immediately, though. Kershaw remains on the injured list due to left elbow inflammation.
“As this keeps going along we’ll be able to share more tips and tricks of how we think and how we both have evolved over the years of how we see the game now and how we can pitch around things,” sad Scherzer, who is 8-4 with a 2.76 ERA and is fifth in the NL with 147 strikeouts.
Scherzer, who the Dodgers acquired along with Trea Turner for right-handers Josiah Gray and Gerardo Carrillo, catcher Keibert Ruiz and outfielder Donovan Casey, said he had two requests for Nationals GM Mike Rizzo — to remain in the National League and go to a warm-weather city.
There were a couple hours where rumors had the San Diego Padres closing in on a deal for Scherzer, but he said he figured that was just speculation because he had not heard from Rizzo.
Scherzer said he got a call from Rizzo while on a bus heading back from Philadelphia after last Thursday’s doubleheader that he was headed to Los Angeles, capping what was a stressful couple of weeks.
“The thing that gave me clarity was instead of trying to pick a team, it was where would I go to and just accept the trade to?” he said. “I had discussions with Mike about the direction of the team and his words were that the roster need to be retooled and he needed to give a facelift to the organization to provide, to provide resources and obviously stock up on the minor league system as well.”
Scherzer, who is making $35 million in the final season of a $210 million, seven-year contract, said he would prefer to remain in the National League when he becomes a free agent after the World Series, but will wait to see how things play out.
He joins a Dodgers club that began Tuesday 3 1/2 games behind the Giants in the NL West and in possession of the first wild-card spot.
“I’m glad I’m part of an organization that wants to win and has their sights on the ultimate prize,” he said. “I understand why we’re here. We have a great team, but as a player guy you can only control what you can control. You can’t worry about other people’s expectations. All I can do is go out there and pitch my game.”
Scherzer will face the Astros on Wednesday for the first time since he started Game 7 of the 2019 World Series in Houston, where he had a no-decision in Washington’s 6-2 victory.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports