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Mets pitcher Max Scherzer was both a victim and perpetrator of pitch clock issues on Friday.
Scherzer has historically been one of the most routine oriented pitchers in MLB. For that reason and his generally prickly demeanor on the mound, many expected him to view the pitch clock with disdain.
And for part of his Friday start, it certainly seemed like those fears would be justified.
In the top of the 3rd inning, Scherzer faced Nationals catcher Riley Adams with first and third and no one out.
He delivered a perfectly placed pitch to get a ground ball, and sure enough, the Mets defense turned a double play behind him.
Except the pitch clock had gone to 00 just before he delivered, and the umpires waved the play off and called a ball instead.
Scherzer was clearly, uh, not pleased. And neither were Mets fans.
Adams was given another chance to prolong his at bat. And so after being penalized, Scherzer decided to use the clock to his advantage.
Scherzer Shows Pitch Clock Gamesmanship
Realizing that hitters only have one timeout per at bat, Scherzer got set and stood in position on the mound for an uncomfortable amount of time.
Adams gave in and called time. But Scherzer stood on the mound in the set position, waiting for Adams to get back in the box.
If Adams tried to call timeout again, he’d be penalized with strike three. If he took too long to get back in the box, he’d be penalized with strike three.
Realizing that, Scherzer quick-pitched him, getting strike three anyway.
Gotta love it.
This isn’t the first example of the pitch clock being weaponized by starting pitchers this spring training.
READ: YANKEES PITCHER TAKES ADVANTAGE OF PITCH CLOCK, GETS 20-SECOND STRIKEOUT
But it does show how much of an advantage it can be to pitchers willing and able to game the system.
With game times already dropping dramatically, the pitch clock is showing clear benefits to pace of play and cutting down on lengthy delays.
But there are clearly some quirks to the system that veterans like Scherzer will be able to exploit. Now we’ll have to see if hitters are able to disrupt pitchers’ timing in similar fashion.
Should be a fun season!