JUPITER, Fla. — At a time when many starters are throwing two innings before hitting the showers, Max Scherzer pitched five innings of one-run ball in his New York Mets spring debut.
He cruised against a Miami Marlins lineup stacked with major leaguers.
« He’s as advertised, » Mets manager Buck Showalter said. « He’s engaged in the competition. He’s got a consistent ‘on’ button. »
Scherzer, 37, took the mound focused mostly on throwing strikes. He succeeded, finding the area with 55 of his 72 pitches. He surrendered three hits and didn’t walk anyone, while striking out five.
At one point Scherzer retired nine consecutive hitters.
« First time out I just wanted to come in and fill up the zone, » Scherzer said. « If you have a feel for the strike zone then you learn how to kind of pitch around the strike zone. »
One of the three hits Scherzer surrendered came on Jazz Chisholm’s bunt down the third-base line to lead off the game.
« People bunt, » Scherzer said. « People hit. It’s part of the game. »
Chisholm stole second and eventually scored from third on Avisail Garcia’s single, and the Marlins defeated the Mets 3-0.
A three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star, Scherzer signed a three-year, $130 million free-agent deal with New York prior to the lockout. He’s coming off a 15-4, 2.46 ERA season split between Washington and Los Angeles.
During the lockout, as a member of the MLBPA executive subcommittee, Scherzer spent more time than he’d have liked at Jupiter’s Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium as the union and MLB officials used the facility as the site for collective bargaining talks.
Did Scherzer enjoy Monday’s trip to Roger Dean better than those negotiating days?
« Oh god, » said Scherzer, shaking his head. « I think you can answer that one for yourself. »
Scherzer is targeting 90 pitches for his next outing and wants to get to 100 in his final start before the Mets break camp.
« I want to experience 100 pitches, be tired kind of, on that 100th pitch, » Scherzer said. « Then, when it’s opening day, your first start, I can tell Buck, ‘I’ve been to 100.’ I know kind of where my line’s at. It’s a much more honest conversation at that point in time. »
Opening Day starter Jacob deGrom is scheduled to make his spring debut on Tuesday against Houston. The Mets have a camp day on Wednesday, then plan to give Chris Bassitt his first start as a Met on Thursday against the Marlins. Fellow starter Carlos Carrasco will piggyback Bassitt in relief.
There is one catch, however. With showers predicted for Thursday evening, Showalter might elect to have Bassitt and Carrasco pitch in a minor league game earlier in the day.