In his first game after serving a 10-game suspension for allegedly using an illegal sticky substance, the Mets ace was knocked around by the Detroit Tigers, allowing six earned runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings to a team that entered Wednesday ranked last in MLB in runs scored.
It was the most earned runs Scherzer had allowed in a start since July 8, 2021.
“I was spraying the ball, especially out of the stretch, and that’s what you expect coming off a long layoff,” Scherzer said, via The Associated Press. “The number one thing was getting through this start healthy, and we did that. Now we can move forward.”
Scherzer struggled with command for nearly the entire outing and saw a three-digit decrease in the spin rates of his fastball, slider and curveball from his season averages, which is not insignificant given the reason for his suspension.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) May 3, 2023
It was Scherzer's second game in Detroit since he left the Tigers for the Washington Nationals in free agency after the 2014 season. His only other visit, on June 30, 2019, saw him strike out 14 and allow one run in eight innings.
This time, he had former Tigers teammate Justin Verlander alongside him in the Mets rotation. Both have won a World Series championship and multiple Cy Young Awards since leaving Detroit.
Verlander is scheduled to make his Mets debut Thursday after missing the start of the season due to a shoulder injury.
“Obviously, we were hoping for a little better results, but I think his command was just off,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said of Scherzer's performance, via The Associated Press. “That happens with pitchers. I’m sure he’ll be better the next time out.”
Scherzer finishes his controversial suspension
Scherzer was sidelined for 10 games last month after a disputed series of events during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 19.
Making a start against another former team at Dodger Stadium, Scherzer was ejected after umpires determined that he used an illegal sticky substance. He was first told to clean his hand after the second inning, only to be told he also had to change his glove after the third.
Before the fourth inning, however, the umpires again inspected Scherzer's hand and found what crew chief Dan Bellino later described as "the stickiest that it has been since I've been inspecting hands." Perhaps unsurprisingly, Scherzer objected to the ejection:
Max Scherzer was ejected between innings after a heated conversation with the umpiring crew pic.twitter.com/mqMkOnzchb
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 19, 2023
Scherzer insisted to both the umpires and reporters after the game that he was using only rosin, but even that can be deemed illegal when used in certain ways.
While the incident raised questions about MLB's enforcement of its sticky substance ban, the league still hit Scherzer with the 10-game suspension that comes automatically with a sticky substance ejection. He was the third pitcher to receive the sanction since MLB's crackdown in 2021.
Scherzer initially planned to appeal the suspension but later said he decided against it after learning that the appeal would be heard by an MLB official instead of a neutral arbitrator. He still wasn't a fan of the outcome:
What was the toughest part of the suspension for Max Scherzer?
"It all sucked." pic.twitter.com/nMxJv5cQBx
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 2, 2023
With Scherzer suspended, Verlander still out and Carlos Carrasco hitting the injured list due to right elbow inflammation, the Mets turned to the likes of Joey Lucchesi and Denyi Reyes to make starts, in addition to Kodai Senga, David Peterson, Tylor Megill and José Butto.