For the past seven years in a Washington Nationals uniform, Max Scherzer stalked the mound a like a predator. When he found his best stuff, Scherzer could be observed pacing, snarling, growling, and cussing at opposing hitters. Given that animalistic behavior on the mound, it’s no surprise he has a taste for red meat.
As Scherzer prepares to depart Washington for Los Angeles in a massive trade deadline deal with the Dodgers, D.C. sportswriters are already looking back at what made him so special. Among other things, that includes a maniacal work ethic, a remarkably intense disposition, and a commitment to housing a giant roast beef sandwich before every game he was scheduled to pitch.
“I’m so hungry by the end of the game, so I have to eat a huge thing before a start,” Scherzer once told ESPN. “Most of the clubhouses, they’ll have deli meat in the clubhouse. So I just go out and make a huge sandwich and put some cheese on it. We’re looking at probably half-pound, three-quarters of a pound of meat. That’s what gets me going.”
Washington Post baseball reporter Chelsea Janes often included Scherzer’s affinity for the specific cold cuts in stories about dominant outings. Thanks to Sports Illustrated, we know that Scherzer likes to build his pregame beef towers with Swiss cheese. Ahead of his first start in 2017, former Nationals manager Dusty Baker gifted Scherzer a roast beef hoagie from Sarcone’s in Philadelphia.
Over his six and a half seasons, Scherzer started 189 games for the Nationals. If we conservatively estimate he ate a half-pound of roast beef before each one, that means about 95 pounds of meat fueled 92 wins, 1,229 innings, and 1,610 strikeouts — the most in the majors over that span by more a margin of more than 200. He made six All-Star teams. He won two NL Cy Young awards. He led the Nationals to a 2019 World Series title. All the while, he munched a bunch of roast beef.
Curious if Scherzer ever went out for roast beef — maybe at MGM Roast Beef, Deli City, Loeb’s, or Parkway Deli — Eater asked the Nationals public relations staff if they would make the pitcher available for an interview about his favorite sandwich. Given this was during the hectic period ahead of the 2021 season and they had legitimate sporting matters to attend to, they declined the request.
Today, as D.C. steadies itself for the odd experience of watching Scherzer snarl in a blue-and-white uniform, a clubhouse attendant somewhere in Los Angeles is unwrapping a package of rosy beef slices with Scherzer’s name on it.