Mets’ Max Scherzer Denies Using Foreign Substance Against Dodgers

Max Scherzer returned to Dodger Stadium to face the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time as a member of the New York Mets, but he was ejected after just three scoreless innings.

Scherzer underwent a foreign substance check by first-base umpire Phil Cuzzi, who in the second inning instructed him to wash his hands and get a new glove in the third, to which the future Hall of Famer obliged.

Home-plate umpire Dan Bellino and Cuzzi inspected Scherzer again before the bottom of the fourth inning began, and at that point he became more irate, which led to the ejection.

“So, after the second inning, my hand was a little clumpy from the rosin and sweat,” Scherzer explained. “It was clumpy. Phil told me to wash off, so I washed it off. I washed it with alcohol and went back out there. The alcohol, for a little bit there, can be sticky with rosin. That can happen.

“He was like, ‘That’s too sticky. You need to go back down there and wash it off again and re-apply the rosin.’ So I did that. And at the same time he felt my glove had too much rosin on it. I was like, ‘OK, that’s not a problem. There’s nothing going on.’ He was like, ‘You need a new glove.’ So, OK. So I come back out and pith the third, and knew I was going to get checked in the fourth.

“I’d have to be an absolute idiot to try to do anything when I’m coming back out for the fourth. After that third inning, in front of the MLB official that’s underneath here, I wash my hand with alcohol in front of the official. I then apply rosin and I grab sweat. When I then go back out there, Phil Cuzzi says my hand is too sticky. Yes, when you use sweat and rosin, your hand is sticky.

“But I don’t get how I get ejected when in front of an MLB official, doing exactly what you want and being deemed my hand is too sticky when I’m using a legal substance. I do not understand that.”

Rosin is an approved substance by MLB, that when mixed with sweat, becomes sticky. Although umpires should be aware of that, and despite having an MLB official watching the incident unfold, Scherzer still did not receive the benefit of the doubt from the umpiring crew, despite following their instructions.

“He said my hand is too sticky, and I said, ‘I swear on my kids’ lives, I’m not using anything else, This is sweat and rosin,’” Scherzer said. “Sweat and rosin, I keep saying it over and over, and they touch my hand and say that it’s sticky. I’m like, ‘Yes, it is. Because it’s sweat and rosin.’ They say it’s too sticky and they threw me out because of that.”

Despite the stickiness of his hand, there was no significant increase to the spin rate on any of Scherzer’s pitches against the Dodgers, which is the main concern MLB cracked down on sticky substances.

All pitches were within 100 rpm of his season average, which is an expected variation for the spin rate of pitches due to various factors on any given day. For comparison, Noah Syndergaard had two of his pitches with more than 100 rpm of difference from his season average.

With the pitch data easily available, Scherzer believes umpires should use that information to help determine whether a pitcher is breaking the rules or not. “I completely agree with that,” he said.

Max Scherzer to discuss MLB sticky checks

Scherzer has been one of the leaders in the MLB Players Association (MLBPA), and despite no longer being a representative, he is well-respected among his peers and still has an influence on how the player union operates.

Scherzer is almost certainly going to appeal a 10-game suspension for the foreign substances violation, and he will further discuss MLB’s rules and whether they are too subjective to umpire interpretation.

“I will talk about this in the future,” Scherzer said. “All the rules, and this and that. Today is about being ejected over sweat and rosin.”

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