Max Scherzer dominates the Phillies.
He dominates everyone, but particularly the Phillies. Friday was his 10th start against them since joining the Nationals, and in those 10 starts he's 7-0 with a 1.87 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings.
One guy Scherzer does not dominate, however, is Odubel Herrera.
Herrera entered the game with a .400 on-base percentage against Scherzer in 30 plate appearances and on Friday, he went 2 for 3 against him (see Instant Replay). Herrera has reached base 14 times now in 33 plate appearances against Scherzer. No other National Leaguer has reached base against him more than 11 times over that span.
What about that matchup is so favorable for Herrera?
"Anything regarding Herrera, I don't know if any of it makes sense," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said with a laugh. "He's just an enigma. This guy collects hits. He can look so bad on two pitches and then hang out a rope somewhere. He's got a certain ability that a lot of guys don't have.
"We have a couple guys -- (Adam) Duvall and (Tucker) Barnhart -- they kill us in Cincinnati. I told [pitching coach Bob McClure], we've got to find a way to get these guys out. For some reason they just hit us.
"Herrera sees the ball out of Scherzer's hand very well for some reason. So it might just be a different approach. Scherzer, I'm sure, is aware of it."
Oh, he's aware of it. A perfectionist like Scherzer, who is also extremely analytical, knows the numbers and remembers the at-bats.
"He's just a tough out," Scherzer said after his first start of 2017. "He grinds his ABs, hits the ball the other way. He can hit off-speed (pitches). I've really got to make pitches against him to get him out."
Herrera is the Phillies' hottest hitter four games into the season. He's 6 for 14 with two doubles and four walks, picking up right where he left off last April when he hit .313 with a .462 on-base percentage.
With guys like Herrera, it usually doesn't matter who he's facing. If Herrera is locked in, he's going to have a good night. He has the bat wizardry to foul off tough pitches to extend an at-bat, he usually has a good idea of the strike zone, and he delights in taking a walk. How many other guys flip the bat after a walk? (Herrera almost killed Maikel Franco with his bat flip in the eighth inning Friday.)
"I definitely have respect for him, but it's a game," Scherzer said. "Even though he's had success against me, I still believe I can get him out, that there are things I can do to get him out."
Scherzer's great, he's the reigning Cy Young, so of course, he's going to make adjustments. But three years into Scherzer's Nationals tenure and three years into Herrera's career, it's advantage: El Torito.