Postscript on Scherzer
About this time yesterday, I was noting five keys for Max Scherzer to have better fortunes against the A’s in Game 1 than he did in August. Because the A’s were going to stack up left-handed batters and switch-hitters against him, I emphasized the curveball. Turns out the changeup did just fine.
The stats from brooksbaseball.net were impressive. Scherzer threw 25 changeups. A’s hitters swung at 22 of them, and whiffed on 10. That’s more swings and misses than Scherzer got against the A’s on ALL of his pitches in August. Only one of the six changeups put in play last night went for a base hit.
The way Scherzer talked about the game plan after the game didn’t sound like the changeup was originally going to be a big part of it.
“When you’re pitching, you go on your instincts,” Scherzer said. “Alex [Avila] and I had a game plan that we wanted to do early in the game and when you get in the game, sometimes it changes. And today we noticed that my fastball seemed pretty good and my changeup seemed pretty good. So early in the game, I was featuring those two pitches a lot and we had some success there in the game because of that. And that’s why I thought I was able to get in the groove and pitch deep into the game, because of those two pitches.”
That’s the type of adjustment Justin Verlander thrives on, and Scherzer has become better at making the last couple years. That’s not to say that Scherzer will shut down a team on his third- or fourth-best pitch like Verlander has done, but it means he can react to what hitters are trying to do against him. It’s also an example of why Avila works so well with these pitchers.
Other notes from the outing …
- Scherzer used just 14 pitches to get through the opening inning, compared with 25 and 29 during his two regular-season meetings with the A’s this year. He also needed 14 pitches in the fourth. He didn’t have any innings shorter than that, but he didn’t have a 20-pitch inning until his last, when the A’s got 22 out of him. That relative efficiency early pretty much bought him the seventh inning, and it made the bullpen much more manageable.
- Scherzer threw first-pitch strikes to 18 out of 26 hitters, compared with 15 out of 24 in August.
- The A’s fouled off 26 pitches from Scherzer over seven innings, compared with 23 over five. The difference, however, was that just a handful of them came with two strikes to extend at-bats. In many cases, the foul balls came earlier in the count to put Scherzer ahead.
- Oh, the curveball? Scherzer threw seven of them, five for strikes, none for swings and misses.