Mets pitcher Max Scherzer rips MLB’s strict pitch clock enforcement after win over Phillies

After a delay in his catcher taking the field, Max Scherzer’s warm-up pitches were cut short Thursday in accordance with MLB’s pitch clock rules

New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer didn’t hold back Thursday about Major League Baseball’s pitch clock.

Scherzer got into it with home plate umpire Tripp Gibson before the fifth inning of the Mets' 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. As Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez was the last out in the bottom of the previous inning, he was delayed in taking the field — which resulted in Scherzer not being allowed to complete all eight of his warm-up pitches.

According to MLB rules, pitchers are allowed eight pitches to warm up during the two-minute break every half-inning. By the time that period was up and Gibson was ready to start the inning, Scherzer had yet to complete his eight pitches, which sparked their conversation.

“Look, I’m doing my normal routine,” Scherzer said. “Why do we need to step through the game and have the umpires change routines when it’s not my fault of what’s going on here … Why do we need a pitch clock for that situation? If I throw one more pitch, what, I’m one second slower?

"Why can't the umpires have discretion in that situation to allow a pitcher to throw his eight normal warm-up pitches? Why do we have to be so anal about this to have the clock shoved in everybody's face and try to step out every little single second that's going into the game?"

While it looked tense, Scherzer said he and Gibson were actually on the same side. Scherzer said Gibson told him he couldn’t finish the warm-up pitches because the league would “get mad at him.”

Gibson, he said, actually wanted him to speak out after the game.

"It's situations like that that really are frustrating not only for pitchers, players, but even umpires," Scherzer said. "That's what Tripp says. Tripp is handcuffed. Why is Tripp handcuffed to not allow something normal, a normal routine? Just a normal routine. Why can't Tripp make that call? … They want to allow the game to be normal. The umpires are frustrated as we are that the game is not normal, that we're living and dying by the clock. That was our conversation … We're way too far thinking about the clock in every single situation instead of letting players have their normal routines."

After a delay in his catcher taking the field in the fifth inning, Max Scherzer’s warm-up pitches were cut short Thursday. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)
After a delay in his catcher taking the field in the fifth inning, Max Scherzer’s warm-up pitches were cut short Thursday. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)

MLB implemented a clock between half-innings in 2015, but the rules weren’t strictly enforced. The umpire discretion that Scherzer is looking for has been allowed until this season. But with the addition of the pitch timer, the league is apparently enforcing the rule by the book.

Despite the frustration, the new pitch clock rules are working. Per CBS Sports, the average time of a game this season, as of May 31, was 2:38. Games the past four seasons lasted an average of more than three hours.

Scherzer allowed just one run and five hits in his seven innings Thursday at Citi Field. He struck out nine and walked one in the 4-2 win, which marked the Mets' third straight win and completed a series sweep of Philadelphia. Scherzer holds a 3.21 ERA and a 5-2 record in nine starts this season, his second with the Mets.