Max Scherzer did not snub Dodgers because his arm was “boiled over”

Hours before Major League Baseball put a lockdown earlier this month, marking the league’s first work stoppage in 26 years, Max Scherzer was introduced via Zoom as the newest member of the New York Mets.

Scherzer didn’t want to talk about the Dodgers who bought him for the last three months of the 2021 season. He declined to comment on whether the Dodgers made him an offer before signing a three-year $ 130 million deal to showcase in Queens. He did, however, address the disappointing end of his time in Los Angeles when he was scratched off his start in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves.

Speaking at the press conference, Scherzer said he took the time to examine the variables that led to him telling his bosses that he couldn’t play in the crucial Game 6. He concluded that a lower pre-season workload was the reason. The reasoning resulted in a backlash from observers who believed he was blaming the Dodgers.

In a recent phone interview with the Times, Scherzer wanted to make one thing clear: He wasn’t a scapegoat for the Dodgers.

“I’m not blaming the Dodgers,” Scherzer said. “Maybe I haven’t been clear enough about what I was talking about.”

Scherzer, 37, said he had conversations with manager Dave Roberts and others about its post-season use. He said he spoke to Roberts after starting his wildcard game against the St. Louis Cardinals – he worked through 4 1/3 innings – and told the manager he could be deployed from the bullpen if necessary and take confidence in his Experience in 2019 helping the Washington Nationals win the World Series.

“When I look at how the postseason has developed, it looks very similar to the 2019 race,” said Scherzer. “I threw the wildcard” [game] and get into the division series, make a relief appearance and then also open up in the NLCS. There was a four-start run for me there. From the wildcard start – and that’s 2019 – from the wildcard start to the relief appearance, then two days later a start against the Dodgers, 110 throws in this start and then game 2 against the Cardinals.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts relieves starting pitcher Max Scherzer during the fifth inning of Game 2 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves on October 17.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

“It wasn’t about a contractual situation. It’s literally my arm’s health. If you can’t throw, you can’t throw. “

Max Scherzer

“That was a huge workload for me in 2019, but I made it. When the playoffs started, I said about Doc after the wildcard game: ‘Hey, I’ve had experience with this. I understand how this postseason works. If I get a relieved look, you can use me from the ‘pen’. “

Scherzer hit seven innings in Game 3 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants before throwing 13 pitches in the ninth inning of Game 5 to end the series three days later. Three days later, he could only muster 4 1/3 innings in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. His arm did not recover in time for his scheduled Game 6 start. In view of the elimination, the Dodgers gave the ball to Walker Bühler for the second time within two weeks with a short break. They lost to end their season.

Scherzer again insisted that there was nothing structurally wrong with his arm. He said he could throw from 60 to 25 feet before Game 6, but his arm was too “overcooked” to start that day.

“When I think about the 2021 run – and that’s the point I tried to make at the press conference – was it right that the Dodgers did the right thing to protect Walker? [Buehler] and Julio [Urías] and we raise ourselves on the sixth day. Give us extra rest more often. And for me that was … most of what I’d ever pitched on the sixth day rotation. And only throwing 90 to 100 pitches in my head, which reduced my work capacity from what I could actually do on a day-to-day basis. As I went into this postseason I went from a lesser work capacity to what I did in 2019 when I was trying to do what I did that was just too big a leap.

“We never took this variable into account. I’ve never considered this variable and so, like I said, I’m bearing the brunt of having these discussions with Dave about how I can be used in the postseason and come up short. by my side to say I can do something and then it didn’t happen. And here’s nobody’s fault, nobody’s fault, it’s just that you learn from it. It’s something that happens. “

Dodger's starting pitcher Max Scherzer reacts after giving up a double home run on Joc Pederson of Atlanta.

Dodger’s starting pitcher Max Scherzer reacts after giving up a double home run against Joc Pederson of Atlanta in Game 2 of the NLCS on October 17.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Scherzer again declined to reveal details of the Dodgers’ pursuit for him in the free hand. He said his upcoming freelance agency didn’t play a role in his decision not to showcase.

“If I play in this game, I will burst and I could be out for a year and endanger my career,” said Scherzer. “It wasn’t about a contractual situation. It’s literally my arm’s health. If you can’t throw, you can’t throw.

“I needed time. And you don’t have time in the playoffs, so every day was important at that point. So if I was pushed back in Game 7, I could have taken the ball. Like I said, I don’t know how much I could have given, but I would have been in a much better position than throwing in Game 6. If I had thrown in Game 6, I would have thrown if I was seriously injured. There are no ifs and buts. “

“For Dodger fans who are mad at me for getting such a dead arm, hey, this is fair game. Look, you’re playing with LA, you’re here to win the World Series. “

Max Scherzer

In 2019, Scherzer completed an average of 103 pitches in a career of 27 starts. He threw at least 110 throws in seven games. He did not reach this mark once in 2021.

Scherzer made a one-inning relief appearance in the 2019 postseason – in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers. That was three days after throwing 77 pitches in five innings in wildcard play and three days before throwing 109 pitches over seven innings in Game 4. His last three playoff appearances have all been starts with at least four days off. He started Game 1 of the World Series and had his second start postponed to Game 7.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts speaks to Max Scherzer in the dugout.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts speaks to Max Scherzer in the dugout during the fifth innings of the Dodgers wildcard game against the St. Louis Cardinals on October 6th.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

In 2021, Scherzer made 11 regular season starts as Dodger after being acquired at close of trading on July 30th. He put together a 1.98 ERA with 89 strikeouts and eight walks. He threw 109 pitches over seven innings in his debut before a rain-short foray of 3 1/3 innings. In his last nine starts, he then completed an average of 96.3 pitches, including one that was limited to 76 pitches due to a slight thigh injury. He logged more than 100 pitches five times, with a high of 109.

He stormed into the seventh inning in five starts and into the eighth inning three times. With the Cy Young Award within reach, he probably would have gotten the green light to dig deep into his last two starts, but he gave up 10 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.

Ultimately, he made seven starts with five rest days and four with four rest days. In total, he completed an average of 94 pitches in 30 starts for the Nationals and Dodgers. He then threw 296 pitches over 16 2/3 innings in four postseason games over a period of 12 days.

“When Dodger fans are mad at me, when I get such a dead arm, hey, that’s fair game,” said Scherzer. “Look, you’re playing with LA, you’re here to win the World Series. I got that. I agreed and that the fans get upset about my dead arm, that’s fair. I can live with it.

“I would still have gone back and had the same conversations with Dave. Looking back, I don’t regret saying, ‘Hey, let’s do the 2019 playoff run.’ Because the 2019 playoff run worked for the Nationals and we were able to make a World Series ring out of it, and for that we also played with the Dodgers. “

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