Luke Scherzer could have called it quits after the 2018 season, but he decided to toe the rubber for one more year. The sixth-year senior brings a wealth of experience to the Hokies, having pitched 110.2 innings with 100 strikeouts over his career. Scherzer is also no stranger to adversity, battling back through two Tommy John surgeries in his career. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-hander will be an integral part of the pitching staff as either a starter, or out of the bullpen.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
LS: I haven’t thought about this one, this is a good one. It’d probably be a baseball player. I’d really want to eat dinner with Trevor Hoffman. Just kind of see how he worked his way up and pick his brain. See what worked for him and what didn’t. I’m a young guy and he’s obviously been through it. I’d like to see what he has to say.
Q: If you didn’t play baseball in college, what other sport would you play?
LS: Basketball. Basketball 100 percent. I’m a big basketball fan.
Q: Favorite baseball team and baseball player?
LS: I’ve always been a Nationals fan since they moved from Montreal. I was an Orioles fan before, and I really enjoyed watching Adam Jones play. I really like the way he goes about the game. I still think there’s a place in the MLB for him.
Q: What’s been your favorite memory over your time at Virginia Tech?
LS: I wouldn’t say there’s one specific. If I look back after I leave, I’ll really appreciate all the guys that I’ve been here with. Just spending the countless number of hours with these guys on and off the field. That’s what I’ll always remember.
Q: What’s been the biggest lesson that all these years at Virginia Tech, all the surgeries, the recoveries, have taught you?
LS: Just keep grinding. You just have to imagine that everything is going to work out as long as you work hard and keep doing what you’re supposed to do. Virginia Tech has taught me a lot of things about myself socially and mentally.
Q: What made you want to come back one more year?
LS: I graduated last year and I had the opportunity to start a master’s program here at Virginia Tech and play baseball in the same year. I talked through it with my coaches and my academic advisors, and they said that the workload wouldn’t be too bad and that I could do it. Of course, if I have the opportunity to play baseball another year then I’m absolutely going to take that chance.
Q: You have bases loaded with two outs and a 3-2 count on the batter. What pitch are you throwing him?
LS: I’m throwing the slider. Definitely the slider. I feel pretty confident with it these days.
Q: What’s the biggest difference between starting a game on the mound and coming in out of the bullpen, since you’ve done both?
LS: Mentally I don’t like to think that there even is a difference, but obviously there is. When you know that you have to go five, six, seven innings as a starter, you can’t really be going out there and throwing every pitch as hard as you possibly can because you’re going to lose your rhythm. You’re going to lose your stamina. As a starter, you definitely have to scale back a little bit and hit your spots a little more. As a closer or reliever, you get to go in there full force, full speed, and just get after hitters.
Q: What have you been working on this offseason to make sure this last year is your best year on the mound?
LS: I’ve never really had a full windup in the past, and I’ve really been working on that. I really feel comfortable nowadays with it. The changeup is definitely coming along more. I think the main focus I’ve had right now is trying to get my arm 100 percent. In the past I haven’t really dealt with much pain since that second surgery, but I’ve struggled with velocity and having that arm feel super live as it used to be. What I’ve been working on now is really getting that thing ramped up and really getting it strong.
Q: How do you want people to remember Luke Scherzer when you take off the Virginia Tech jersey for the last time?
LS: I’d just like people to remember me as a good teammate, good person, good leader. Somebody who puts the team first and is always there for the guys on and off the field.