Dodgers-Cardinals: Max Scherzer’s reaction to being shot
They call it Mad Max for a reason
Max Scherzer is the most intense man in baseball. Starting pitchers always have their quirks, but Scherzer is on another level. This is a guy who trained on the field at Nationals Park during the Georgetown graduation ceremony in 2021, pitched seven scoreless innings the day after breaking his nose and went all-round doing field exercises the day before his debut in the NL wildcard game against the Cardinals. And he takes it up a notch when he’s actually on the mound, growling, looking at daggers through the hitters and whispering to himself. You shouldn’t even look at it from the side when it throws (and you really must not touch it).
The only thing on Scherzer’s mind is winning, and he thinks no one gives his team a better chance at winning than him. If he had played 100 years ago, he would have been the kind of guy who threw 200 shots in a game and came back the next day to start over. And so, when manager Dave Roberts came in to take Scherzer out with a fifth inning strike on Tuesday, he didn’t want to give up the ball.
Roberts reached out to take the ball. Scherzer reached out and shook him. Roberts had to put his hand in the pitcher’s glove to grab the ball from him.
Of course, Scherzer wanted to stay in the game; although in good health, he had never been called out of a game after 4 ⅓ of innings or less while allowing one or less points. (Scherzer has played eight such games in his career, six of which left due to injury. One was a short, pre-planned outing in 2019 in his first injured-list return game. The other was a 2012 playoff test on the last day of the regular season after being struck out of his previous start with shoulder pain.)
If he’s not injured and / or gets knocked over, Scherzer expects to stay in a game. But a knockout playoff game isn’t the time to please a player’s ego. When Roberts came to pick him up, Scherzer had just taken out No.3 batter Tyler O’Neill, but there were two runners on base and only one to take out, with Nolan Arenado coming in at home plate. Scherzer had already pitched 96 pitches and walked three batters. He wasn’t exactly doing business. And so Roberts called Joe Kelly.
“I just felt there wasn’t a lot of going back and forth with Max tonight,” Roberts told reporters. “I saw his cursor go up a lot. I’ve seen over 90 shots not even in five innings, and Arenado took a good swing for his first at bat. He saw it several times. I felt that with Arenado coming in, there was a chance for a potential No.1 floor ball, and I just thought it was a different look.
“We’re going to be leaning on Max for the rest of the playoffs, but I just felt then it was the right decision.”
Roberts wasn’t surprised that Scherzer was reluctant to give up the ball.
“Yes, I never expect him to be happy, but it was my decision,” he said.
But what did Scherzer think of the first hook? This is where things get a little interesting. Scherzer was not asked about Roberts’ decision during his post-match press conference. He was asked about it later in an interview on TBS, but he wasn’t exactly able to analyze his night too closely.
“You have to get rid of that echo,” said a shirtless Scherzer as he struggled with audio issues in his headphones. “I’m drunk. It doesn’t matter.”
“Yeah, Dave Roberts… understands where he wants – sorry, I got an echo – where he wants his relievers in every location,” Scherzer said. “And so, look, he wanted Joe Kelly over there. Even though I was good. He wanted Joe. This is how you win a ball game.
See? Once out of the game, Scherzer is actually able to let go.
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