What to make of Max Scherzer’s week
Until Sunday, the last time we saw Max Scherzer facing hitters, the Orioles were teeing off on his pitches for home runs, doubles, and all kinds of hits on his way to 12 runs, 11 earned, over two-plus innings. The last time we saw him throw, period, was Opening Day at Yankee Stadium — in the bullpen during batting practice.
The goal was to make some mechanical tweaks in his delivery, similar to what he battled last year but not exactly the same. For the most part, he felt like he accomplished that.
Then he made his regular-season debut Sunday against the Yankees and gave up four home runs over five innings. But two of those homers seemed to be a product of the conditions, both for the cozy dimensions to right field and for the breeze blowing out in that direction. And while four home runs are obviously a lot, his ability to limit the rest of the damage kept some runners off base in front of the homers, meaning those four homers accounted for just six runs total.
So how should Scherzer be judged this week? It’s a good question for debate, especially while I sit on the train going from New York to Baltimore. Two things to keep in mind, though:
First, Scherzer’s velocity Sunday was pretty well normal at 93-95, which is a few mph better than what he had going in Sarasota last Monday. So while maybe Scherzer’s arm was too far out in front while throwing sometimes, it didn’t impact his arm strength this time.
Second, Scherzer still proved quite deceptive to Yankees hitters on Sunday, racking up six of his 15 outs by strikeout, including three of the final nine batters he faced. Of course, that also means the Bronx Bombers had a really strong average on balls put in play, but it certainly suggests he’s not hurting for life on his pitches. The slider, which Scherzer has been pleased about for much of the spring, is one of them.