Mets Facing Max Trouble
The New York Mets were swept in a doubleheader by the Detroit Tigers. With the Tigers being a very bad team (entered the day 10-17), that’s bad news in and of itself, but it’s not quite cause to overreact.
Losing with Adam Ottavino blowing the save in game one is what it is. Ottavino hasn’t quite been what he was last season, and this is the second time out of five chances he has faltered in ninth inning duties. Considering he had a 2.70 ERA before the appearance, this is not cause for alarm.
No, the real cause for alarm was Max Scherzer was very bad . . . again.
In a homecoming of sorts, Scherzer lasted just 3.1 innings allowing six earned on eight hits and one walk. He only struck out three. He allowed two homers. There’s no other way to say it. He was horrible.
More to the point, he has been very bad this season. He’s averaging 4.2 innings per start. Yes, that is partially because of the 10 game suspension, but he also has not pitched beyond 5.1 innings since his Opening Day start.
The 7.9 K/9 stands to be the worst mark of his career. The same goes for the 20.8 K%. His 2.00 K/BB and 2.4 HR/9 also stand to be the worst. Really, all across the board, this looks like it is going to be the worst season of Scherzer’s career.
With Scherzer being 38, this is cause for panic. He is supposed to be a co-ace, and instead, he looks like a pitcher who could be done. He’s not even pitching like an effective fifth starter.
Maybe it was the altered off-season routine because of last season’s oblique issues. Perhaps, it is the pitch clock. Maybe, just maybe, it is the fact, he’s 38 years old, and sooner or later, we were just going to see his performance drop.
Scherzer thinks the layoff hurt him. Maybe, he’s right, but then again, he seemingly has had a lot of excuses this season. He’s needed them too with his performance.
His fastball velocity is down almost a full MPH with it dropping to 92.5 MPH in the start against the Tigers. The average exit velocity against us by more than three MPH. The hard hit rate is a troubling 40.9%. Batters have been able to barrel him up.
Looking at the spin rates in his first start back from the suspension, they were all notably down. That’s not de facto evidence of cheating or a drop off. It could just be frustration and confusion on what to do now after being suspended for using rosin. Remember, David Cone effectively defended Scherzer on Sunday Night Baseball.
The cheating or not aspect misses the point. If Scherzer is now at a loss for what he can and cannot do, we should be at a loss for how Scherzer reclaims his ace form.
The Mets are missing José Quintana. Carlos Carrasco looked done before going on the IL. David Peterson regressed. Tylor Megill hasn’t lit the world on fire. Joey Lucchesi followed a great start against the San Francisco Giants with diminishing returns in his subsequent starts.
This Mets team was built on their starting pitching. Considering they did not improve the offense, their chances of contending are tied to this rotation. Even if Justin Verlander is what we hoped he would be, it looks like the rotation as a whole won’t be. If that’s the case, the Mets are in a very dangerous place.