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#pounditSaturday, July 2, 2022

Max Scherzer thinks Dodgers misused him

Max Scherzer in a Dodgers uniform

Max Scherzer did not have the postseason he was hoping for, and he seems to feel like the Los Angeles Dodgers misused him.

The Los Angeles Dodgers lost in six games to the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS. The team ran out of pitching, largely due to their mismanagement of the pitching staff. They turned Julio Urias, the only 20-game winner in MLB, into a reliever. They had Walker Buehler pitching on short rest. And they had Scherzer both pitching out of the bullpen and on short rest. He ultimately was scratched from an elimination start due to a dead arm.

Changing up everyone’s roles backfired and left the Dodgers without enough quality pitchers to get the necessary outs against the Braves.

Scherzer, who was acquired along with Trea Turner from Washington at the trade deadline, did great in the regular season, going 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA with the Dodgers. However, he chose to sign with the New York Mets in free agency this offseason rather than return to Los Angeles.

The Mets’ financial offer was hard to pass up, but it could also be that Scherzer did not want to return to the Dodgers in part because of philosophical differences.

Scherzer said in an interview with SNY a few weeks ago that he spent time reflecting on the postseason to see what went wrong. He ultimately concluded that the Dodgers reducing his pitch counts towards the end of the regular season caused his body to get used to less of a workload. He believes that led his body to be uncooperative when a higher workload was needed in the postseason, resulting in his dead arm.

“In Washington, I was asked to pitch on the 5 day and pitch 100, 110 pitches consistently, and I loved it. I was built-up to throw a higher work capacity in D.C. So when I got asked to do that (by the Dodgers in 2021), I felt like my arm could respond to that. … (the Dodgers) made decisions to give extra days out and watch our pitch counts for the postseason.

“I just feel that lowered my work capacity so that when I tried to the 2019 formula of being able to pitch out of the pen, my arm was not able to respond to that, because I came out of the lower pitch count.”

Scherzer even described himself as “compromised” when trying to pitch extra in the postseason.

Let this be a lesson to teams that are so concerned about preserving players, keeping them in bubble wrap, and avoiding harm, that sometimes it’s best to just let the athletes do their thing and not overmanage or place too many limitations. This is yet another example of how “load management” can have negative effects.

Photo: Aug 10, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) walks towards the dugout against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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