Before the season starts I like to give myself a little goal. This season's goal was to watch a full baseball game played by all 30 teams. Not really that difficult of a task at all; I may have even done it last year. But I wanted to keep track this season and make certain.
Well, it's almost July and I haven't watched a full Phillies game yet. No offence Phillies fans but enter: a reason to. Max Scherzer will be taking the bump for the visiting Nationals, and, if you haven't heard, he's been really good in his past two starts. Over those 18 innings, he has struck out 26 batters and allowed only three base runners. The two outings were good enough for a 100 and 97 Bill James Game Score respectively. He is only the third pitcher ever to earn two 90+ Bill James Game Scores in the same season and no pitcher ever (before Scherzer) had thrown two 95+ Game Scores in a season.
On the other hand is the Phillies offense. By wRC+ it's the third worst in baseball and by fWAR the team is next-to-last. Suffice it to say, there are outlandish expectations of a guaranteed perfect game tonight at Citizens Bank Park.
Scherzer's next start will be vs. the Phillies. Perfect game alert remains at DEFCON 2
— Cory Schwartz (@schwartzstops) June 20, 2015
Of course, most people are kidding (I think). Pitching a perfect game takes more than a pitcher on an unsustainable hot streak going against one of the worst teams in baseball and in a National League pitcher's park. After all, only 23 perfect games have ever occurred in Major League Baseball's 200,000 game history. That's 0.01% of games. Our very own Matt Goldman has some anti-hype to calm the herd:
I've got money on a hit in the first inning. https://t.co/9LSTHmb5Q9
— Matt Goldman (@TheOriginalBull) June 26, 2015
He could absolutely be right. Honestly, any time I tend to get excited about things it ends up this way. I mean, it's even insulting to the Phillies. They are, after all, a major league team trying to win games. They is a definite possibility that they could even win the game. Fangraphs has the starting win probability for the Phillies at a fitting 32.4%. That being said, it's just not every night that you get to see a pitcher as masterful as Scherzer get to work.
So, we know the actual Bill James Game Scores of his previous starts. What if we could predict tonight's game score? What would they look like? Well, yours truly had a bit of fun with numbers earlier this season and invented a formula to do just that. If you would like to read about it, it is divided into three parts (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). Otherwise, let's check out what the formula thinks of Scherzer's odds.
According to the formula, Scherzer's Game Score should be 139. 139!!! That's absolute insanity. If a pitcher strikes out every batter he faces and allows three batters to reach base via error in every single inning, thereby not allowing a run to score but striking out six batters per inning, for all nine innings that Game Score would be 141. Scherzer is two shy of, frankly, an impossible outing.
Really this is just an exercise to see what flaws could be corrected in the formula. This shows that it's still flawed but, at the same time it also highlights how amazingly hot Scherzer has been and how *ahem* below average the Phillies have been.
Either way, enjoy the game! And the leadoff hit from Odubel Herrerra.
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Michael Bradburn is a Featured Writer for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @mwbii. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org