Having Max Scherzer healthy, pitching like old self is huge boon for Mets

New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) pitches against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park.
New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) pitches against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In a game where the Mets scored eight runs in one inning – the most they’ve scored in a single inning this season – it was the performance and health of Max Scherzer that still grabbed headlines, this time in a positive way.

Scherzer pitched five innings and gave up a run on two hits while striking out six, finishing his first start in over 10 days with a flurry by retiring nine of the final 10 batters to face him. It was a stark contrast to his previous start on May 3 against the Detroit Tigers where he failed to get out of the fourth inning and gave up a season-high six earned runs.

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“Max is probably the highlight,” skipper Buck Showalter said about his team’s 8-2 win. “Max feeling good physically and getting through it, you know he hasn’t been able to do a lot of cardiovascular work with this and you can tell he was a little winded there towards the end.

“I would’ve signed up in blood for him to get through five innings to get his pitch count up like that, so that’s probably the highlight of the day other than winning the game – get a good outing from Max and you can tell on his face that he felt good about himself.”

Known for being as intense of a pitcher as there is on the mound, Scherzer looked relieved and joyful after the game, smiling to reporters when talking about not only his performance, but at the idea of what’s to come.

And if anybody deserved to be happy on Sunday, it was Scherzer who has had a whirlwind of a week, month, season, you name it. Right before his dreadful start in Detroit, the 38-year-old was serving a 10-game suspension by MLB due to his hands being too sticky in a start against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 19.


Then, just hours before his scheduled start on May 9 against the Cincinnati Reds, Scherzer was scratched due to neck spasms. In fact, before Sunday’s start against the Washington Nationals, Scherzer had pitched just 6.1 innings in almost a full month.

“Today, this was probably the most winded I’ve ever been in a start, like I was huffing and puffing,” he said. “I wasn’t tired but I was just out of breath because the last six days I haven’t done a thing, I’ve been sitting in a neck brace.”

Given all of that, it’s encouraging that Scherzer left Sunday’s start feeling good, results aside. In that sense, it almost sounded like a spring training or rehab start, where Scherzer was simply hoping to leave the game healthy so he could then finally be able to begin his season.

“Physically, good enough that I’m gonna avoid the IL,” he said about how he felt after the start. “I’ll be able to now get back into a routine and get going. So that’s the most important thing, to avoid the IL and be out there and be healthy and throw the ball well.”


If Sunday’s outing was the jump-start to Scherzer’s 2023 season, that’s great news for the Mets who have been skating by with an injured rotation to start the season but who recently saw Justin Verlander, who had his own odd start to the year, pitch seven dominant innings.

With a healthy Scherzer and Verlander atop the rotation pitching like their Cy Young selves, New York’s chances to make a deep run increase exponentially.

“It’s great to have him back,” said Mark Canha about Scherzer. “Whenever you get a bulldog like that back, it’s gonna help us.”

Canha was referring to having Scherzer back from injury, but he could have just as well been talking about having vintage Scherzer back, too, a guy the Mets had seldom seen to begin the season.