Mets’ Max Scherzer getting into a rhythm with Francisco Alvarez after best start of season

New York Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez (4) looks to the dugout for a signal in the eighth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, May 9, 2023.
New York Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez (4) looks to the dugout for a signal in the eighth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Max Scherzer has had an up and down season with the Mets in 2023, but Friday night’s win over the Colorado Rockies was easily the best he's looked...so far.

In New York's 5-2 win over Colorado, Scherzer went seven innings and struck out eight batters -- both season highs. He was in complete control of his pitches and made a young Rockies team chase his breaking stuff all game.

A big part of that was the rapport the future Hall of Famer has developed with rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez.

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“I've been telling Alvy for a while. ‘I'm better than this, I can locate, I can pitch with all these pitches just hang with me’ and I finally started executing,” Scherzer said after the game. “I’m starting to turn a corner, getting healthy and was able to work with him.

“He made some good calls today, some good sequences on what we wanted to do. I feel like we are getting into a good rhythm and when we get into a good rhythm we can start rolling.”

It also helped that the Mets are suddenly scoring runs again. After scoring just four runs in their two losses to the Cubs, the Mets have scored 10 and now five runs to give Scherzer the ability to pitch from ahead.

“When you have that happen, working with Alvy well, and for our offense to give run support that’s huge,” Scherzer explained. “That allows me to be aggressive. When we got up 4-1 it allowed me to attack their hitters on [a 3-2 count] and I don’t have to pitch on pins and needles.”

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Scherzer’s second season with the Mets has been marred by injuries and other factors that have kept him off the field. He’s dealt with back soreness, neck spasms and even a 10-game suspension that has started and stopped his 2023 campaign.

But as manager Buck Showalter said after the win, the key is for Scherzer to just be on the mound on a regular basis.

“He’s gotten into a routine for what seems like the first time this year,” the Mets skipper said. “He takes the ball and doesn’t think about it.”

Scherzer is actually dealing with a blister on his middle and thumb of his pitching hand, which cut his last start short. He admitted that it was giving him trouble in the seventh inning on Friday, but he gutted through the pain and gave the Mets what they needed, and Alvarez helped him.

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Alvarez has not only managed the Mets rotation since being called up in April, but has produced at the plate. Friday, the catcher went 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to six games. In his last seven games he’s slashing .375/.444/.792 with three home runs and seven RBI and just two strikeouts.

But entering Friday, Scherzer started three games with Alvarez behind the plate and has given up seven runs in 11.1 IP to the tune of a 5.57 ERA. Those numbers obviously change with Friday’s outing but it shows the potential for the battery of Scherzer and Alvarez the more they start together.

“I can execute these pitches, I can pitch the quadrants and I haven’t been doing that with [Alvarez] yet for a variety of reasons,” Scherzer said. “It felt like today I was able to start doing that. When I can do that it gives him more freedom to execute, game plan and be creative back there. Hopefully we take this and keep running with it.”