Max Scherzer Blames Dead Arm On Dodgers’ Efforts To Monitor Workload
Max Scherzer, 2021 NLCS
Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the long-anticipated MLB lockout getting imposed late Wednesday night, there was a flurry of activity in free agency over the past week. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, it included Corey Seager and Max Scherzer signing lucrative contracts elsewhere.

Seager agreed to a 10-year, $325 million deal with the Texas Rangers, which is the largest of the offseason thus far in terms of total value. As for Scherzer, he signed a three-year, $130 million contract with the New York Mets that shattered Gerrit Cole’s average annual value record.

The future Hall of Famer joining the Mets ended a brief stint with the Dodgers. Scherzer helped anchor an injury-depleted rotation after being acquired at the trade deadline by posting a perfect 7-0 record, 1.98 ERA, 1.96 FIP and 0.82 WHIP in 11 regular season starts.

The right-hander was just as effective in the postseason until arm fatigue set in. After closing out the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, he was unable to make his next start in the opener against the Atlanta Braves.

Scherzer returned to the mound in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series but failed to get out of the fifth inning. It wound up being his final appearance of the postseason as he was scratched from his scheduled outing in Game 6 — even on an extra day of rest.

“How I reflect upon that Game 5 and how I was used, my conversations with Doc and Friedman, I had done that in 2019 in the World Series run,” Scherzer said during his introductory press conference with the Mets.

“I pitched the Wild Card Game, made a relief appearance, made a couple more starts and was able to do that. I thought I was in the same position to be able to do that in 2021. Reflecting upon that, in Washington, I was asked to pitch on the five-day and throw 100-110 pitches consistently.

“I was stepped on all the time, and I loved it. I was built up for a much higher work capacity in D.C. So when I got asked to do that, I felt like my arm could respond to that. Rightfully so with the Dodgers, there was major concern to protect Walker’s and Julio’s innings, and I 100% support that.

“We made decisions to give extra days out on a consistent basis and watch our pitch counts for the postseason. I just feel that lowered my work capacity, so that when I tried to do the 2019 formula of being able to pitch out of the ‘pen, my arm wasn’t able to respond to that because I came from a lower pitch count, per se.

“That’s why I didn’t get hurt. That’s why I didn’t hurt myself, but I was definitely compromised from trying to execute what I did in 2019. You learn something new every time. I’ve never asked a manager for the ball and gotten hurt like that or not be able to make my next start. That’s just never happened to me in all of my years of pitching.

“You can ask all of my managers. If I tell you I can go, I can go. This was a first time I ran into something where I really thought I could do something and it didn’t show up. It took me a while to search through that and find what happened, what was the difference, why was I able to execute the 2019 postseason plan? And that’s what I came to.”

Scherzer’s workload wasn’t drastically different

Although the 37-year-old believes a conservative approach backfired, Scherzer did pitch into the seventh inning in five of his starts for the Dodgers, and reached the eighth inning in three outings.

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