The Max We Know And Love

Max Scherzer AI

There were two things that Max Scherzer battled with early this season: Getting swings and misses, and pitch sequencing that was too predictable.

On Friday night against the Rockies, he got seven swings and misses for strikeouts, and he spread out the out pitches masterfully. Two on fastballs, two on cutters, one each on a curveball, slider, and changeup. (A second strikeout on a changeup was a backwards K.) What led to that success was the command. He threw one middle middle fastball to Jurickson Profar (which he missed), and one hanging curveball to Rynn McMahon that he crushed for a home run. But other than that, he stayed on the edges and threw pitcher’s pitches, enabling him to get the Rockies to chase pitches, good and bad.

This is the Max Scherzer the Mets desperately need if they’re going to go back to the playoffs and have success. That Max Scherzer has been present over the last two games, and Friday night he was brilliant in a Mets 5-2 victory in Denver. Consider that the Mets are undefeated when the starting pitcher goes six innings. Not seven, not eight … just six. It’s so obvious that good starting pitching makes a difference. When the starting pitcher can’t answer the bell, then things like loading the bases in the third and not scoring will kill you. But when you have the good Max Scherzer on the hill, that third inning is just a footnote.

Of course, the Mets would capitalize on other chances offensively, and it was mostly Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor. Nimmo and Lindor went BB/HR to start the game (scoring first makes a huge difference with this team too), and Nimmo would end up with three walks and two triples while Lindor would drive home four runs to give the Mets everything they needed offensvely.

The bullpen was a little shaky, but thanks to Max they only needed six outs from them. David Robertson gave up a home run in the 8th to cut the lead to 4-2. After the Mets made it 5-2 in the top of the 9th (a Francisco Lindor sac fly that Profar had to make an insane play on), Brooks Raley came in for the ninth, but he walked two batters to force Buck Showalter to bring in Adam Ottavino. Ottavino gave up a single to Alan Trejo which should have loaded the bases, but Nolan Jones had other ideas.

Many thanks to Nolan Jones for helping us out. But also thanks to Eduardo Escobar for not sulking after the ball clanged off his glove to let Lindor know that he needed to throw the ball. And thanks to Lindor for making the throw, and to Jeff McNeil for covering the bag.

Mike Moustakas came up as the Rockies’ last hope with Ottavino 60 feet 6 inches away (with Noah Syndergaard 1,881 miles away getting drilled by the Rays.) Ottavino struck out Moustakas to end it. The Mets are now 27-25 and, as blasphemous as it is to even say at thsi early stage of the season, are only 4.5 games back of the Braves in the east. With the Braves already having clinched the 2023 World Series in the minds of some people, and the Mets being the most disappointing franchise in the history of North American sports, 4.5 games isn’t bad.

Today’s Hate List

John Fisher. (Incoming rant inspired by a conversation on SNY tonight):

The 2023 A’s are on pace to break the modern day record held by the 1962 Mets for having the worst season in baseball history. The ’62 Mets were built on the expansion draft with a lot of veteran names and faded stars. Time would prove that it wasn’t the best way ot build a team. But flawed as that strategy is, at least it had good intention. They tried to win. Being it was their first ever season of existence, they were lovable. Lovable losers.

The 2023 A’s were not built with the intention of winning. It’s  not by fault of any players on that roster. It is squarely the fault of the owner, who is driving that team out of Oakland and blaming the fans for it. In one of their final seasons in Oakland, they’re going to break the 1962 Mets record. It will be fully deserved, but it will represent a low mark rather than a love affair.

That’s kinda sad.

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