Max Scherzer Or Phil Cuzzi Should Be Suspended

Just when you thought the New York Mets starting pitching situation couldn’t get any worse, Max Scherzer was thrown out of the game for having an illegal sticky substance. That triggers an automatic 10 game suspension. The Mets can ill afford that with Carlos Carrasco headed to the IL with elbow inflammation.

The situation leading up to Scherzer’s ejection was bizarre. It needs to be fully recapped, and with all the facts surrounding it, we will see the ejection as highly suspect.

It all began in the second inning when Scherzer was told to wash his hand due to “clumpiness”on his non-pitching hand created from the sweat and rosin. Per Scherzer, he washed his hand in front of an MLB official. That was insufficient for Cuzzi, who ordered Scherzer to switch gloves before the start of the third inning.

Coming out for the fourth, Scherzer was checked, and this time, he would be ejected. This would be the third time a pitcher has been suspended for sticky substances. The first two were Caleb Smith and Hector Santiago. Like Scherzer, both pitchers were ejected by Cuzzi.

Scherzer summoned home plate umpire Dan Bellino to interfere. After the game, Bellino would say through pool reporters, “As far as stickiness, this was the stickiest that it has been since I have been inspecting hands, which goes back three seasons. Compared to the first inning, the level of stickiness, it was so sticky that when we touched his hand, our fingers were sticking to his hand. Whatever was on there remained on our fingers for a few innings afterwards [so] that you could still feel the fingers were sticking together.” (Los Angeles Times).

The counter-point to Bellino was Scherzer again noting he washed his hands in front of an MLB official. We did not see him go to the clubhouse between innings to procure something illicit. Scherzer said he knew he was going to get checked in the fourth, and that he wasn’t an idiot. He swore on his children’s lives he did not cheat.

Obviously, Scherzer, the Mets, and Mets fans are going to swear he wasn’t cheating. To a certain extent, Scherzer has built a solid reputation for himself. This isn’t Gerritt Cole. No one ever thought Scherzer was using foreign non-approved substances to pitch well. On that point, Los Angeles Dodgers commentator Orel Hershiser was on Scherzer’s side:

To be fair, Scherzer was a former Dodger. For what it’s worth, Hershiser was a member of the 1999 Mets. However, this seemed to be more akin to Hershiser defending a fellow great starter.

It should be noted New York Yankees starter Domingo Germán had an issue with rosin on his hand in his last start. Unlike Scherzer, he didn’t comply with the request to wash his hands. Also unlike Scherzer, he would not be ejected from the game. In fact, Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli would be when he complained about how Germán wasn’t being disciplined.

Where does this all lead us? Well, we have a pitcher in Scherzer who has a sterling reputation. There is no video evidence he cheated, and the Dodgers were not requesting Scherzer get checked. Of note there, Scherzer played for Dave Roberts in 2021.

On Cuzzi, he is still the only umpire to eject pitchers for illegal substances. However, its just three over two plus years. That’s not exactly an excessive gotcha indicator. That said, he escalated this situation.

In the end, Scherzer washed his hands in front of an MLB official and didn’t go to the clubhouse. Everything he did was recorded. He even switched gloves per the umpire’s request. Despite all of that, the umpires claim his hand got stickier, and was, in fact, the stickiest hand they ever felt.

Either Scherzer found a way to cheat, or an umpire had it out for a player who groused about the excessive checks and requests. Keep in mind, Cuzzi is a they’re here to see me umpire with a history of #umpshow moments.

Unless there was an official MLB inspection of Scherzer after the game, it is difficult to see how he could be suspended. He complied with every umpire demand, and there’s video of him in the dugout. On the other hand, Cuzzi has a history.

And yet, Scherzer faces an automatic suspension. Based on all the evidence, it appears he should avoid the suspension. If in fact he does, then a suspension should be coming Cuzzi’s way for improperly throwing out a player.