Baseball will look a lot different in 2023 compared to past years. Between the pitch clock, bigger bases, and a ban on shifts, the first weekend of spring training games was interesting while players began the adjustment process. Someone who looked right at home was Mets starting pitcher, Max Scherzer.
His first appearance of the year came against the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon. New York eventually won the contest by a score of 6-3, and Scherzer looked sharp. In two innings, the right-hander allowed one run on three hits and five strikeouts.
None of this is shocking news. Scherzer is among the best pitchers in baseball and has consistently been at the top of his game. Even in spring training. It was noticeable how the ace utilized certain things at his fingertips, though.
He had no choice regarding the pitch clock. However, Scherzer didn’t seem at all uncomfortable, as you can see by the below strikeout of Joey Meneses. It took him less than 30 seconds to finish his first inning in three pitches:
Max Scherzer ends his first inning of work with a strikeout that took 27 seconds.
Don't think anyone in baseball is better equipped to pitch with the clock. pic.twitter.com/pWEvw7PNnV
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) February 26, 2023
This wasn’t the only thing Scherzer used to keep a brisk pace on the mound. He was also using MLB’s PitchCom technology so he could communicate as quickly as possible with catcher Omar Narvaez.
As you can see from the picture, Max Scherzer was wearing a PitchCom device on his glove Sunday. This allows Scherzer to call the pitch in situations when he knows what he wants to throw. pic.twitter.com/cn36LDzKmY
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) February 27, 2023
What’s interesting here is that when PitchCom initially became a thing, Scherzer was against it. In fact, he said it should be illegal. But now, he’s actively trying to find a way to use it to his advantage. Sometimes all it takes is a little time for things to work out, right?
However, Scherzer aggressively using the pitch clock should be news to nobody based on earlier comments he had about it. Back in September, the hurler talked about his desire to “weaponize” the pitch clock against hitters. He also wasn’t worried about it because he naturally likes to work fast. Here’s what he said about it then:
It’s going to be interesting moving forward, especially since there’s going to be a pitch clock. Now I’m going to be able to work extremely fast, so I feel like there’s going to be unintended consequences because of that. I feel like I’m going to be able to weaponize this in a way to be able to flip it around and make the hitters hate this because it’s going to be so much easier on me.
So, there you have it. This is one of the many reasons why Scherzer is consistently one of the game’s best hurlers, a three-time Cy Young winner, and a likely Hall of Famer once his career is over. Regardless of the success he’s experienced or the number of years he’s been in the league, Scherzer is constantly looking for ways to improve and take his game to the next level.
One can imagine the hurler will use spring training to try out different approaches on how to effectively use MLB’s new rules and technology to his advantage…and to the hitter’s disadvantage.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.