Home News What’s next for Max Scherzer after sticky stuff ejection

What’s next for Max Scherzer after sticky stuff ejection

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SAN FRANCISCO — Max Scherzer’s sticky right hand got him ejected, but the punitive process could be just beginning.

Now the Mets co-ace awaits a potential suspension after he was ruled by umpires to have violated MLB’s mandate against foreign substances used by pitchers.

Scherzer was tossed before the bottom of the fourth inning on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, after crew chief Phil Cuzzi and plate umpire Dan Bellino were unsatisfied by multiple attempts to get Scherzer’s stickiness resolved.

Scherzer claimed his “clumpy” right hand was the result of rosin and sweat and he abided by the rules.

Bellino said Scherzer’s hand, by the time of the final check, was the stickiest of any pitcher he’s examined during the almost two years the new rules have existed.

A primer on the situation:

So what’s the next step here?

MLB officials, led by vice president of on-field operations Michael Hill, will review the report filed by the umpiring crew and decide within the next few days if a 10-game suspension is warranted for Scherzer.


Max Scherzer argues with umpires during the Mets-Dodgers game on April 19, 2023.
AP

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Since the league began a crackdown in June 2021 against substances that can improve spin rate, only two pitchers have been suspended.

Diamondbacks left-hander Caleb Smith was suspended in August 2021 for an illegal substance on his glove. Smith told Cuzzi – who was umpiring third base in that game – the substance was a combination of rosin and dirt.

Smith’s glove was confiscated and sent to MLB offices for testing.

Hector Santiago, in June 2021, was the first pitcher suspended for a substance under the new rules.

The Mariners left-hander indicated to Cuzzi – who was the plate umpire for that game – he was using rosin, mixed with his sweat on a humid day.

If MLB suspends him, what are Scherzer’s options?

Scherzer can appeal his case, meaning he would speak directly to MLB officials and give his side of the story.

Smith and Santiago appealed their punishments in 2021, but both suspensions were upheld.


Buck Showalter argues with umpires during the Mets-Dodgers game on April 19, 2023.
Buck Showalter argues with umpires during the Mets-Dodgers game on April 19, 2023.
AP

It could take up to two weeks for an appeal to occur, pushing any potential suspension into May.

That could possibly benefit the Mets, who have three starting pitchers (Justin Verlander, Carlos Carrasco and Jose Quintana) on the injured list now, but may have a reduced number by the time a suspension would start following an unsuccessful appeal.

What happens to Scherzer’s roster spot if he’s suspended?

The Mets would not be allowed to fill Scherzer’s roster spot for the length of the suspension, leaving them with 25 players instead of 26.

That would likely mean recalling a starting pitcher from Triple-A Syracuse at the expense of a reliever, but there are various directions in which the Mets could head, depending on the roster composition when the suspension begins.   

Does Scherzer get paid if he’s suspended?


Max Scherzer was ejected from the Mets-Dodgers game.
Max Scherzer was ejected from the Mets-Dodgers game.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Players lose pay for PED suspensions, but not on-field infractions that result in punishment.

In Scherzer’s case that is roughly $2.4 million he gets to keep if he’s suspended for 10 games.

We’ve seen players who have been suspected of or caught using PEDs be punished when it comes to the Hall of Fame.

If Scherzer is suspended for using foreign substances, could this affect his Hall of Fame legacy? Or are the situations not the same?


Max Scherzer talks with Buck Showalter
Max Scherzer talks with Buck Showalter
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

It’s hard to equate the baseball equivalent of a felony (PEDs) with a misdemeanor (foreign substances).

Even if Scherzer is suspended there can always be reasonable doubt that an infraction occurred, as Cuzzi and Bellino were simply going on what they perceived through touch.

There isn’t evidence that can be provided through scientific testing, as Scherzer was ejected for a substance on his hand.

He had previously followed Cuzzi’s order to change his glove, and the new one wasn’t cited as an issue when he got ejected.

Regardless, it’s hard to imagine a 10-game suspension for a sticky substance would convince many – if any – Hall of Fame voters to ignore the three-time Cy Young award winner when he begins appearing on the ballot.

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