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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Max Scherzer’s Mets debut: The view behind the plate

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Max Scherzer (21) of the New York Mets pitches in the second inning against the Miami Marlins during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium in 2022

JUPITER, Fla. — Max ScherzerThe first action of the exhibition game was one of the most significant days of spring training for the Mets, both psychologically (yes, it really was Scherzer in orange and blue) and physically, as Scherzer ended last season in an arm phase. dead.

I watched Scherzer throw his 72 pitches a few rows behind the plate, then talked to scouts and Scherzer.

Here are some takeaways from the five-inning, one-run outing:

– Scherzer threw all five of his pitches (four-seam fastball, cutter, slider, changeup and curveball) in the first inning. That’s a different style of, say, jacob degromwho tends to set his fastball early in a game before weaving in the rest of his repertoire.

I asked Scherzer if this was just to work on his pitches, or if he started games this way in the regular season, more Yankee-style. Gerrit Cabbage. He said that while his goal in this game was to start by throwing all his pitches for strikes, he believes in throwing any pitch at any time in a regular-season game.

— Scherzer’s off-speed pitches started out a bit flat, but got much sharper as the game went on. In the first entry, Avisail Garcia singled on a run off a curveball that stayed high in the zone.

In the second entry, Brian Anderson he made hard contact flying into right field on a regular curveball, but the pitch already looked better than it did on the first. In the fourth, when Scherzer struck out Lewin Diaz with a beautiful turning curve, it was executing the way I wanted it to.

When I asked Scherzer if he agreed that his off-speed shooting got better throughout the game, he agreed with the basic premise, albeit with an alteration.

“My curveball and changeup were good today,” he said. “My slider was a little off.”

Scherzer must be a harsh critic of himself, because the Marlins’ hitters certainly didn’t hit like the slider wasn’t right.

— Scherzer’s four-seam fastball in the first inning clocked in at 92-93 mph. If this had continued throughout the game, it would have been at least a little curious, but in the second inning, Scherzer touched 96-97 mph.

— It was fun to watch Scherzer’s notorious intensity up close. Whenever a player with that kind of reputation comes along, one wonders if he is authentic or eyewashed built on smaller markets.

Scherzer’s competitive fire is clearly real. When he gave Garcia the curveball in the first, he stomped and huffed. Several other times, when he couldn’t seem to execute a pitch exactly the way he wanted, he shook his head or rolled his eyes.

It was a lazy Monday afternoon in the stands of Roger Dean Stadium, but all one had to do to find the energy of the pennant race was look toward the mound.

— The bottom line is that it was a great day for Scherzer and the Mets. As one scout put it, “There’s not much to criticize there.”

Unless, apparently, you’re Max Scherzer himself, who knows he can do even better.

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