Mets’ Max Scherzer on pitch clock, PitchCom combo: ‘I can work so quick if I want to’

Note: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links, Schneps Media may earn a commission.
Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

After allowing a single to Matt Adams to lead off the second inning, Max Scherzer decided to play a new game of chicken with Washington Nationals third baseman Michael Chavis. 

After a first-pitch ball, the future Hall-of-Famer got into his set and simply waited to try and throw off the timing of the former Red Sox prospect. Prior to this spring, that’s normal gamesmanship. In 2023, it’s a test of gumption in the face of Major League Baseball’s new pitch clock. 

With no runners on, a pitcher will be given 15 seconds to deliver a pitch. With runners on, it’s 20 seconds.

Scherzer stood at the ready long enough to throw off Chavis and force him to take his only timeout available in an at-bat. The Mets hurler then proceeded to hold the ball for 14 seconds on his next pitch — which Chavis managed to fight off for a squib single.

The result wasn’t what the veteran right-hander was looking for in his spring debut in which he allowed one run on three hits with five strikeouts in two innings of work (43 pitches), but it’s a new version of gamesmanship that will evolve from the introduction of the pitch clock.

“We’ve been game-planning this for basically a year now,” Scherzer told SNY after his introductory outing of 2023. “We knew it was coming. It doesn’t take a lot to know that if you hold the ball, it messes up the hitter. The pitcher has complete control of the situation and dictates the pace. With the ability to call the pitches as well, I can work extremely quick or extremely slow and dictate the pace of this.”

Max Scherzer Mets
Max Scherzer (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

That “ability to call the pitches” indicated that the three-time Cy Young Award winner used MLB’s PitchCom — something Scherzer had opposed — which was introduced last season to create a simple relay system of signals between a pitcher and catcher. 

“It works too well, it’s too efficient. That’s been my issue with this,” Scherzer said. “The part of the game is to be able to have a set of signs and we’ve completely taken that out. So you don’t have any mental process… you can literally push a button and you get your pitch selection.”

The pitch clock, however, doesn’t give the 38-year-old to cycle through a nuanced system of signs manually, appearing to make it more of a necessity — and the results certainly bode well for MLB’s pace of play issues.

A seven-pitch opening at-bat to CJ Abrams lasted less than two minutes and a three-pitch strikeout of Joey Meneses took just 24 seconds.

“I can work so quick if I want to. I can completely change the timing,” Scherzer said. “I don’t even have to think. 90% of the time, I know what I’m going to throw. Now it takes the guesswork out and I can just call it into the catcher and we can go.”

For more on the Mets and Max Scherzer, visit AMNY.com