Dead arm came from not pitching enough

His arm would not allow him to pitch more, Max Scherzer said, because he had not pitched enough.

A very on-brand explanation from an ace known for always wanting the ball.

The eight-time All-Star the Mets just lavished with $130 million had a dead arm that kept him from pitching a second time in October’s National League Championship Series. Scherzer was expected to pitch Game 6 for the Dodgers but was scratched because his arm was “overcooked” after pitching three times in nine days in the wild-card game and NLDS, the last of which he emerged from the bullpen to close out the Giants in Game 5.

He said his right arm, which now feels “a lot better” after he took a few weeks off, was not prepared for the workload because the Dodgers had protected him too well. He was able to be a workhorse and bullpen option during the Nationals’ 2019 run to the World Series, but he feels that Los Angeles holding him to a lower pitch count preceding the postseason kept Max from reaching his max.

Scherzer averaged about 94 pitches per outing in six September starts.

Max Scherzer
Mets via AP

“I went past the kind of work capacity where I was built up for. Unfortunately, that happened,” the new Met said in his introductory news conference Wednesday. “I didn’t foresee that happening, but it did. But from a long-term standpoint to a structural standpoint, health standpoint, I’m ready to go. I’m ready to start training.”

Any hiccup from a pitcher who is being paid just over $43 million per season for the next three years is concerning, especially from one who is 37. Scherzer, though, has been among the most consistent and durable pitchers throughout his 14-year career, and his velocity has held steady (and even increased a bit) with age.

That trend cannot continue forever, but the Mets hope he can still be the same Scherzer, who posted his best ERA ever — 2.46 — last season.

When seemingly every other pitcher regresses, how does Scherzer get better into his 30s?

“I really try to focus on being the best athlete as possible — of training my body to be not just a pitcher, but to try to be an athlete with everything that you do,” said Scherzer, who twice has led the league in innings pitched. “For me, being explosive, being able to jump, being able to lift heavy weight, be able to do everything that you need to do. Run, sprint.”

It has allowed him to pitch this far, and he hopes beyond. The megadeal from Mets owner Steve Cohen will take him to age 40, but he said he hopes this will not be his final contract.

He is happy with the location, happy with the owner, happy with his fellow ace in Jacob deGrom and happy with the Mets.

“Crazier things have happened,” said Scherzer, looking three years into the future. “Who knows what life looks like at that point. I’m not going to make a decision on that.

“But the way I feel, I definitely feel like I still got something left in the tank. I have the mindset today that I’m going to play as long as I can.”