In the midst of what still was a three-team race for the National League West title and facing a pressing need for starting pitching, the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a blockbuster trade to acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the deadline this year.
It came with an understanding that Scherzer could potentially go down as just a rental due to being in the final year of his contract. However, there was early belief the Dodgers and Scherzer would look to get a new deal in place come free agency.
The trade immediately paid off for L.A. as the future Hall of Famer went on a historic stretch that kept them on the heels of the San Francisco Giants.
Scherzer and the Dodgers ultimately fell short in the postseason, and his time with the team may now be most remembered for the right-hander not being able to pitch in the National League Championship Series.
After signing a record-setting contract with the New York Mets, Scherzer intimated the Dodgers’ pitching plans were behind his dead arm and the feeling of it being “overcooked.” However, the 37-year-old has now clarified he didn’t intend to blame the organization, per Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times
“I don’t blame the Dodgers,” Scherzer said. “Maybe I didn’t make myself clear enough in what I was actually talking about.”
Despite throwing 110 pitches over seven innings in Game 2 of the National League Division Series, Scherzer declared himself available to pitch in relief on just two days’ rest. The Dodgers wound up utilizing him to close out the winner-take-all Game 5 at Oracle Park.
While it propelled the team into the NL Championship Series, it also marked the start of doom for Scherzer. He struggled against the Atlanta Braves and revealed to be suffering from right arm fatigue after throwing just 4.1 innings in Game 2.
Scherzer was slated to start Game 6 but still hadn’t recovered from arm trouble and got scratched. He anticipated starting Game 7 had the Dodgers managed to avoid elimination.
Scherzer: Dodgers lowered ‘capacity’
When previously touching on how the postseason unfolded, Scherzer explained his belief that the Dodgers’ approach to managing their pitching staff ultimately had an adverse effect.
“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.”
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