VIERA, Fla. -- Max Scherzer's strikeout-to-walk ratio has improved steadily over the last three seasons, from 2.6 in 2010 to 4.3 last year, when he took home the American League Cy Young Award.
This spring, Scherzer has been operating on another level. Although he gave up five runs over 5 2/3 innings during Thursday' 8-1 loss to the Nationals, he also racked up eight K's without issuing a free pass. In 20 Grapefruit League innings, the right-hander now has struck out 24 and walked one.
"Obviously it's nice to do in spring," Scherzer said. "You've got to do it during the season. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm going to be able to replicate it during the season, because that's a whole different animal. But given how I feel, the shape of everything that's going on, I definitely like where I'm at. Now it's just picking up the execution and finding ways to execute better."
Scherzer felt that was lacking at times on Thursday. He gave up three runs in the third inning, two on an Ian Desmond homer -- then two more before exiting in the sixth.
On the other hand, he's happy with the lack of walks.
"Honestly, it's a byproduct of having a great feel for my mechanics and repeating everything," he said. "I'm able to throw all my pitches for strikes, and I'm able to pitch backwards, even when it's 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 -- even in those counts, being able to throw offspeed for strikes and execute those pitches pretty well."
Now all that remains is trying to take that success into April.
"I'm ready," Scherzer said after throwing 91 pitches. "This is just getting my arm conditioned for 100 pitches and ready for my first start. So I'm ready to leave and go up to Detroit."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.