So much for spring training Scherzer

Four weeks ago, Max Scherzer stood in the visiting clubhouse in Sarasota and looked like someone in deep, deep — well, concern.

“I’m not going to write anything off,” Scherzer said after giving up more runs (11 earned) and hits (nine) that day than he recorded outs (seven). “I wanted to be dialed in today, and I wasn’t. I look forward to making the adjustments I need to make going into my first start.”

Mechanically, he was off, and it was hurting his velocity. His normal power fastball was coming in around the low 90s rather than mid-90s, leaving not a whole lot of difference between that and his changeup. And it clearly bothered him.

For the spring, Scherzer allowed 20 earned runs on 25 hits over 17 1/3 innings with 10 walks and 12 strikeouts. The thing was, for all the issues with his fastball and his overall command, his slider was biting better than it ever had.

Four weeks later, that’s turning out to be a valuable pitch for him. Now that he has his workhorse pitches in order, he has a better three-pitch package than ever, and he isn’t afraid to mix it.

I remember talking with Scherzer about his pitches at one point in the spring, and his slider seemed like a distant third on the confidence level. That seems to be changing. More and more, it’s looking like an offspeed pitch he can play off his changeup. A look at the stats so far on fangraphs.com shows he’s throwing it slower, and getting more movement out of it.

According to the data from MLB.com Gameday and posted on brooksbaseball.net, he threw more sliders than changeups Sunday against the White Sox. That might not be all that accurate, since the two pitches can look similar at times. But even if it’s a little bit off, it shows he’s throwing it more after getting away from it the last couple years.

Meanwhile, a mechanical adjustment over his first two starts has him back in form with his normal fastball-changeup combination. The result is a difficult mix for hitters to handle.

The next couple starts are going to be interesting for Scherzer. No team had more base hits off Scherzer last year than the Indians, and that was largely without a healthy Grady Sizemore. Travis Hafner and Shin-Soo Choo are a combined 11-for-19 off Scherzer, and they’ll get their first look of the year at him Friday night in Cleveland. After that, it’s a rematch with the Yankees, who used the friendly dimensions of their stadium to homer four times off him April 3. He has a challenge ahead, but at least it looks different than the challenge he faced coming out of spring training.

11 Comments

John Connor: Is it dead?
The Sherzinator: Terminated.

Walk-off bases loaded double with 2 strikes and 2 out by Sizemore to drive in 3 in the bottom of the 9th.
Sizemore went 3 x 5 and is hitting over .400. Bit of a dilemma for managment I’d say. Rhymes is playing less, not contributiong a lot. Sanatiago has given way to Raburn at 2B. There really is no place for Sizemore on the roster.. You can’t DH both Martinez and Ordonez and since Boesch is playing well that means no outfield, or not much, for Raburn.
Our bench players are not getting much PT. Ramon, Kelly, Rhymes seem to be a little redundant in that they mostly are infielders. I’d like to see Kelly get a few reps at 3rd from time to time.
I am not a JL fan but I do give him some credit for keeoing the troops happy. At least from what I can see anyway.
Martinez and Ordonez are creating some difficulty in that both are DH types on this team. It will get worse if they bring Guillen back.
Injuries are likely to be a big factor in helping to shake this all down and find out who can really play when given the chance.
I’ll be the first to stick my neck out and say this–”boy, we need someone to start giving us a 3 run HR threat”. Besides Cab, no one is showing much ability to batter the fences. I am a bit surprised that Boesch hasn’t found the range yet. He has been consistently hitting and driving in big runs and handling the LHP, so can’t complain too much. Wait till he starts thumping. That’ll be good.

Speaking of Carlos. Wouldn’t it be nice (read appropriate) to get a report from the club?

It took Grady Sizemore 11 months to come back from the same surgery Carlos had. Grady is younger and more athletic, so I don’t see Carlos coming back anytime soon. And if we start rolling with the current roster, I see his insertion into the lineup as a step backward, not a help. He has limited range at 2B and we don’t need another DH.

I agree completely. But we have seen the mentality of management try to recreate (read force) players into roles they are no longer equipopoed for.

trying to see this from a manager’s perspective…you can’t ever have too much talent. the long season reveals players’ vulnerability to injury, slump, and other usually less visible flaws in their game. most teams need 35 guys contributing. think leyland has done a fine job shuffling the roster to rest certain players (ordonez, jackson) when warranted. some other stuff he’s done i don’t understand like batting Kelly 3rd and putting Benoit in to pitch with a 7 run lead.

Regarding Max’s last start, good to see that he was able to pitch deep into a tight ballgame. This is exactly what a team needs from their #1 and 2 starters…will prevent the bullpen from getting overexposed/overused.

Yep, it’s why clubs have 40-man rosters. There are a large number of guys at Toledo who will play up here this season. Meanwhile, Raburn at 2ndbase solves a looming problem when Martinez returns next week. Victor will need that DH spot, especially with the way Avila is hitting, and Ordonez will go to rightfield. The latter won’t be popular with many, but that’s the way it’s going to be. Maggs was re-signed to play RF. One other DH option that hasn’t been used yet is putting Victor at firstbase from time to time while DHing Cabrera. There have been very few successful full time DHs in the history of the game, and it’s best to rotate the position.

in all honestly what is popular is usually short sighted; we need to get Maggs bat in the lineup without taking the DH position as many times as we can.

Is there any logic to replacing Casper with one of the hot OF bats in Toledo? Casper might deserve to be on the team, but he’s been a sore spot both defensively and offensively the past week.

Not sure where you get that Wells has been a sore spot defensively. His fielding % for the year is .947 (compared to Raburn’s .932).
Shouldn’t the same logic be used for Wells as was used for Raburn – that the more AB’s he gets the better he’ll hit? Casper really hasn’t had that many AB’s compared to the other outfielders (30, compared to Raburn’s 73, for example). His K’s per AB (about 1 for every 4) is also lower than Raburn’s (1 for every 3). Why bring a hot hitting OF up from Toledo to sit the bench like Casper has been doing?

did you see his throw to the plate the other day? And im not sure how to quantify it but he’s killed some rallys for sure and maybe it’s his BSR% on this page ( http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/wellsca01-bat.shtml )

I did see that throw. Have you seen how many times Raburn has struck out? Oh, and what about the HR he just pushed over the fence for the Mariners? Great defensive asset he is!

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