The Los Angeles Dodgers strategically pushed Max Scherzer back to Game 2 of the National League Division Series in effort to put him in better position after converting a save to eliminate the San Francisco Giants.
Scherzer anticipated that starting Sunday rather than in Game 1 would allow for him to be recovered for a full start. However, he instead managed to throw just 79 pitches over 4.1 innings of an eventual walk-off loss to the Atlanta Braves.
“I would just say my arm was dead. I could tell when I was warming up that it was still tired,” Scherzer revealed after the Dodgers fell into an 2-0 series deficit.
“I’ve been in this situation before. Usually in those situations kind of once you get past pitch 45, sometimes it kind of loosens up and you’re able to get deeper into a game. But after that third inning it didn’t loosen up. It was still more tightening up. So I could tell that my pitch count was going to be limited.
“I wasn’t going to be able to get truly deep into a game and I wasn’t going to be able to get to that 95-, 100-pitch count. I knew it was going to be sooner than that.
“After the fourth inning I was like, ‘Hey, if this is a long inning, you’re going to have to pull me, but if it’s a quick inning I can go back out there.’ And that’s when we looked at the lineup and said, all right, I got Swanson, the pinch-hitter, and then at that point I knew I wasn’t going to be better than Vesia.
“Vesia was going to be better against the lefties than I was going to be. So for me I have to know the bullpen, who those guys are, who is coming in, because then I can honestly answer the question if I’m good or not. In that situation I knew Vesia was going to be better than me.”
Despite being physically limited, Scherzer finished with seven strikeouts and held the Braves to just two runs — on a Joc Pederson game-tying homer.
Scherzer anticipates full recovery
If the Dodgers are to win the NLCS, they will require at least a Game 6. Barring any change in approach or surprise usage, Scherzer would be lined up to start that contest on one extra day of rest.
That presumably would suit him well, though the right-hander downplayed any concern over his arm fatigue in any event.
“What I’m dealing with is just my arm’s dead,” he reiterated. “It wasn’t like I’m dealing with tendons or ligaments. No. I wasn’t dealing with red flag injuries, it was just my arm was tired. I went out there and pitched as much as I could.”
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