Max Scherzer knows opposing hitters are going to attack him early in the count. He’s aware they’re going to be swinging out of the gate. So he knows he has to execute on every pitch.
“I feel like it’s been happening more and more in my career. Guys are going up there early hacking,” Scherzer said after he gave up two solo home runs, (one by Kyle Farmer on a 95 MPH first-pitch fastball up and in in the third, and another a 1-1 changeup away to Eugenio Suárez in the sixth that didn’t get far enough outside), in what ended up being a 2-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
“It’s even to the first pitch of the game, it doesn’t matter,” Scherzer said, continuing his rant.
“I know that going into almost every start now, that every hitter is going to swing — they’re up there just swinging against me, there’s no free fastballs, there’s no free strike ones, every pitch has to have intent on it otherwise that’s how they catch me and they catch a mistake and they hit a homer.
“I’m cognizant of that, that’s fine, you can pitch around it, you can sequence around that, and you can be better at it once you know that that’s their approach.”
Kyle knows a thing or two, because he's seen a thing or two. pic.twitter.com/KqduXcRNMq— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 25, 2021
“Max did really well, he really did,” manager Davey Martinez said after the loss, in which the only run the Nationals scored came on a solo shot by Josh Bell with one out in the ninth.
“I mean, two homers, but he kept us in the game, had a chance to win.”
“You probably don’t lose on one solo shot,” Scherzer said, after giving up the 9th and 10th HRs he’s allowed this season, all but one of them solo shots.
“But tonight I got beat on two solo shots,” he added. “Got out-pitched, that’s just the way it went. That’s where — even though I had a lot of good stuff tonight, did a lot of things right, [Reds’ starter Tyler] Mahle [came] in and threw better than me tonight. You got to tip your hat to him, he did a great job on the mound, and the Suárez homer is the difference in the ballgame.”
“For the most part when he goes out there and faces an opponent,” Martinez said, “those guys really tend to swing early, and he tries to make his pitches. The first home run was a fastball, 0-0 count, just missed location, and the second one was a ball, a changeup, that he got up, and the guy drove it to right-center field, but he was so good today with everything else, and like I said, if we would have scored a few runs, it would be a different story, we’d be talking about something different. But I really liked the way he threw the ball, I really did, I mean, he kept us in the ballgame and that’s all you can ask, he pitches seven inning for us.”
Asked if there is a consistent thread in the home runs he’s allowed this season, Scherzer said it was simple, really.
“They’re mistake pitches,” he said matter of factly. “The fastball away that runs middle-in — that’s how I got beat on that against Farmer. And then with Suarez, changeup, I pulled the changeup, left it middle away, and that’s his strength. That’s how he hits the ball, he’s really good on thigh, away, that changeup needs to be down and in. I feel like if I throw that pitch right, and throw it down and in, that’s a much better outcome for me.
“Homers are mistakes, and so when you give up a couple, you’re making a couple mistakes. It can happen at any point in this league, the guys in the rest of the league, they have their swings crafted so when you make a mistake thigh-high they can hit the ball out of the ballpark at will. That’s the common thread from every home run that I basically give up, is that I’m not executing that specific pitch.”
“That’s who he is. He tries to get ahead right way,” Martinez said of Scherzer pounding the strike zone and trying to get ahead of hitters.
“He’s got to make his pitches early, he understands that, he knows that, tonight, the guy got him on an 0-0 fastball, but like I said, he battles, he keeps us in the game.”
“The whole league has been aggressive against me, they’re all swinging first pitch of the game,” Scherzer said.
“I know that, so I didn’t execute in that situation against Farmer, trying to go fastball away, ran back middle-in and he hits a homer. So, I got to be better in that situation. I even had a feeling that he was going to be swinging. So, that’s just the way it goes, you’ve got to be better than that.”