Scherzer on new MLB rules: Pitcher has ‘power’

Max Scherzer described pitching under the new major league rules as a “cat-and-mouse” game and, contrary to previous years, the New York Mets ace feels the pitcher finally has gained control.

“Really, the power the pitcher has now — I can totally dictate pace,” Scherzer said Sunday after his spring training debut. “The rule change of the hitter having only one timeout changes the complete dynamic of the hitter-and-pitcher dynamic. I love it.”

In his first start of the Grapefruit League schedule, Scherzer was touched for a run in the second inning but struck out five while working the first two innings of the Mets’ 6-3 win over the Washington Nationals.

Washington’s Michael Chavis, the second hitter in the second inning, stepped out of the box when he felt Scherzer was taking too long. That was fine with Scherzer, who held the ball for more than 10 seconds before delivering the next pitch as Chavis had to remain in the batter’s box, no matter the level of his impatience.

The fact that Chavis ultimately singled to right was immaterial to Scherzer, who felt he had imposed his will on the situation.

“It’s a cat-and-mouse game,” Scherzer said. “There’s rules, and I’ll operate within whatever the rules are.”

The pitch clock and the new timeout regulation are among Major League Baseball’s new rules designed to speed pace of play.

Players will have 30 seconds to resume play between batters. Between pitches, pitchers have 15 seconds with nobody on and 20 seconds if there is a baserunner. The pitcher must start his delivery before the clock expires. After a pitch, the clock starts again when the pitcher has the ball back, the catcher and batter are in the circle around home plate and play is otherwise ready to resume.

“I can work extremely quickly or I can work extremely slow,” Scherzer said. “There is another layer here to be able to mess with the hitter’s timing.”

Scherzer, 38, spoke with plate umpire David Rackley between innings Sunday to seek clarification on the rules.

“I can come set even before the hitter really is in the box,” the three-time Cy Young Award winner said. “I can’t pitch until eight [seconds remain], but as soon as his eyes are up I can go.

“So I had that conversation with the umpire to make sure it’s legal, and it is, so just getting used to how the game is in 2023.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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