Max Scherzer says his dead arm in postseason was result of Dodgers’ pitch count

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Max Schaezer made his first media appearance as a member of the New York Mets on a Zoom conference call on Wednesday. He was joined by his agent Scott Boras in Texas, where he has been one of eight players representing the union in talks with owners in the final hours before the league’s collective bargaining agreement expires Wednesday night. Mets owner Steve Cohen and general manager Billy Appler represented their new club, which does not currently hire a manager.

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They all infused positivity as people always do for these introductory news conferences. The Mets acquired a future Hall of Famer with Jacob deGrom on top of their initial rotation. Scherzer was guaranteed $130 million over three seasons – the highest annual average price for a player in major league history – after his 37th Birthday. smile all around.

Scherzer’s final media appearance as Dodger was not as cheery. It happened in front of the visiting dugout in Truist Park a few hours before Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. He explained why he would not make his scheduled debut that night against the Atlanta Braves in order to survive the Dodgers season. He informed the Dodgers the day before that he could not. He told them that his hand had died after heavy workload in the last 11 days. Instead Walker Buehler started. That night, the Dodgers’ hopes of one World Series title after another were dashed.

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At the end of Wednesday’s virtual meeting with reporters, Scherzer addressed the opposing conclusion to his brief Dodgers career. He said he told the Dodgers he was confident he could handle the increased workload in the postseason as he successfully handled one during the 2019 Washington Nationals World Series run. So he was ready to relieve the Nationals to close out Game 5. League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants three days after throwing seven innings in Game 3.

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Three days later, his stamina ran out in Game 2 of the NLCS in 4 1/3 innings. He was due to start six days later in Game 6 but his hand never recovered. For that moment he was acquired from the Nationals in July and decided he could not deliver. He said that he was shocked. On reflection, he believes the Dodgers’ pitching plan during the regular season set him up for failure.

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“We made the decision to give extra days on a consistent basis and watch our pitch count for the post season,” Scherzer said. “I feel like it has reduced my ability, so when I tried to do the 2019 formula of ‘being able to get out of the pen’, my hand was not able to react to that because I was on a low pitch. Came off the count, per se. So I didn’t get hurt. So I didn’t hurt myself, but there was definitely a compromise in trying to execute what I was trying to do in 2019.”

The theory was news to Dodgers executives. He didn’t know about it until Scherzer told reporters. The club expressed interest in re-signing him, but were unwilling to offer three guaranteed years. In the end, the Dodgers were nowhere close to landing him, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Scherzer said the Nationals let him throw 100 to 110 pitches in a row every five days in 2019, which allowed him to adequately prepare for a tough position.

He did not mention that he was two years old nor that he had been battling leg injuries throughout the season. The disease was enough for Scherzer to tell the Nationals that he would only accept a trade for a competitive team on the West Coast because he thought warmer weather would be better for his body. Ultimately, it came down to the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres.

Former Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer attends a video news conference Wednesday after finalizing a $130 million, three-year deal with the New York Mets.
(New York Mets/Associated Press)

Scherzer, like every other major leaguer, was transitioning from a pandemic-short 60-game season to a full 162-game campaign.

Scherzer made 11 regular-season starts as the Dodgers, tallying a 1.98 ERA with 89 strikeouts and eight walks. He threw 109 pitches in seven innings in his debut, before falling short of rain in 3 1/3 innings. He then averaged 96.3 pitches per game in his last nine starts, limited to 76 pitches by a hamstring injury. He logged more than 100 pitches five times.

He pitched five times in the seventh inning and three in the eighth inning. He might have been given the green light to pitch deep in his last two starts, but he was drafted for 10 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings. Those performances would have earned him a Cy Young Award.

In the end, he started seven on five days off and four on four days off. Overall, he averaged 94 pitches in 30 starts for the Nationals and Dodgers. He then threw 296 pitches in 16 2/3 innings in four postseason games over a span of 12 days.

“I’ve never asked the manager for the ball and I’m hurt like that – or not able to start my next one,” Scherzer said. “It has never happened to me in all my years of pitching. You can ask all my managers. If I tell you I can go, I can go.

“It was the first time I ran into something like this where I thought I could actually do something, and it didn’t show up. Took me a while to search through this. Like, what happened? what was the difference? Why I was not able to execute the plan for the season after 2019 and this is what I came up with. ,

In 2019, he missed almost a month with a back injury and made seven starts in the stretch run before rejoining the Nationals in late August. He pitched thrice on five days’ rest and thrice on four days’ rest. He once entered the seventh inning. He averaged 94 pitches. In all, he averaged a career-low 103 pitches in 27 starts that season and threw at least 110 pitches in seven matches. He had not reached that point even once in 2021.

In the 2019 playoffs, Scherzer made a one-inning relief appearance—in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers. This came three days after he threw 77 pitches in five innings in a wild-card game and 109 pitches in seven innings in Game 4. His last three playoff appearances began on at least four days of rest. He started in Game 1 of the World Series and pushed his second start back into Game 7.

The numbers show that his workload was a bit heavy in 2019 as compared to the healthy he was in, but he also accumulated fewer innings. Scherzer believes this is why he broke up in October and that he knows his body better than anyone else. The Mets just hope it doesn’t happen if they reach October.

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