New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer encountered a ten-game suspension by MLB after being accused of using a prohibited substance against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
Umpire Phil Cuzzi removed Scherzer before the fourth inning due to his hands being excessively sticky. Scherzer argued that he was not using an illegal substance, apart from a mixture of rosin and perspiration. Pitchers are allowed to use rosin to enhance their grip on the ball.
This season, Scherzer has taken the mound for four starts with the Mets and compiled a 2-1 record with a 3.12 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. The three-time Cy Young winner won the World Series in 2019 with the Washington Nationals. Last year, he joined the Mets after signing a three-year contract worth $130 million. Despite some injury issues, Scherzer managed to start 23 games, registering 11-5 and a 2.29 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP.
The Mets and the Dodgers were playing the last game in their three-game series at Dodger Stadium, with a sunny day and a mixed audience of Mets and Dodgers supporters. After the second inning, Cuzzi inspected Scherzer and asked him to rinse his hands since they were sticky. Scherzer again claimed that it was just a combination of rosin and sweat, and a bit of sunscreen. He wiped his hands with an alcohol-based wipe in front of an MLB official. After the third inning, Cuzzi examined Scherzer’s hands and glove and claimed the glove was too tacky, due to an excessive amount of rosin. Scherzer then changed his glove.
When Cuzzi checked Scherzer prior to the fourth inning, he determined his hands were even stickier than before, and ejected him from the game. Scherzer maintained his assertions that only rosin and sweat were involved.
The drama didn’t end there. MLB has started to take seriously the enforcement of rules regarding pitchers using illegal substances to increase their grip on the ball and spin rate. Aside from using the rosin bag behind the pitcher’s mound, any other substances are not permitted.
Many pitchers put sunscreen lotion on their arms, which, when mixed with sweat and rosin, forms a sticky-like substance. This method has been used for over fifty years and umpires have mostly overlooked it, except for Cuzzi.
Scherzer pitched three perfect innings against the Dodgers before his ejection, giving up one hit, walking two batters and striking out three. After the game, Cuzzi expressed his opinion that no one can explain what is too sticky, and that MLB is trying to apply standards that cannot be measured.
The incident resulted in Scherzer being suspended for ten games by MLB. He is expected to miss two starts, but the news didn’t affect the futures market. Despite being short-handed in the starting rotation, the Mets have turned their season around in the last ten games, going 8-2. They are currently second in the NL East behind the Atlanta Braves (14-5) and the fourth overall in the National League.
The Braves are the favorite to win the National League pennant at +280 odds, while the Mets are second overall at +400. The Mets are +850 odds to win the 2023 World Series. Prior to the season, the Mets had a win total of 93.5 over/under according to DraftKings, tied with the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees.