Major League Baseball announced Thursday evening that Mets star Max Scherzer has been suspended for ten games for “violating the prohibitions on foreign substances.” He was also fined an undisclosed amount, which Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports at $10K (Twitter link).
Foreign substance ejections come with an automatic ten-game suspension, so this has seemed likely since Scherzer was thrown out of yesterday’s start against the Dodgers. Scherzer stated after yesterday’s game that he’d appeal any suspension. Heyman tweets this evening that he plans to do so. Scherzer has been adamant he was only using legally-permissible rosin, swearing on the life of his children in the process. Umpires Phil Cuzzi and Dan Bellino, however, explained after the game that Scherzer’s hand was stickier than any other they had inspected previously.
Bellino opined that Scherzer had used “something likely more than rosin” based on its stickiness. MLB’s announcement reflected a similar sentiment. “Based on the umpires’ training to detect rosin on a pitcher’s hands, they concluded that the level of stickiness during the fourth inning check was so extreme that it was inconsistent with the use of rosin and/or sweat alone,” the league wrote. MLB’s press release says umpires “appropriately ejected Mr. Scherzer from the game” at that point.
While the league apparently believes Scherzer applied an illicit substance other than rosin, its press release also points to another potential justification for the ejection/suspension. MLB points out that it sent a memo to clubs during Spring Training reminding that “when used excessively or otherwise misapplied (i.e., to gloves or other parts of the uniform), rosin may be determined by the umpires to be a prohibited foreign substance, the use of which may subject a player to ejection and discipline.” Whether because of the umpiring crew’s determination Scherzer had used a non-rosin sticky substance or the possibility the three-time Cy Young winner applied too much of the otherwise permissible rosin, the league imposed discipline.
It was reported back in June 2021 the league was planning to crack down on the use of “sticky stuff” that pitchers use to improve their grip on the baseball but also to increase spin rates. Two players were suspended not too long after that, with Héctor Santiago of the Mariners getting hit later that same month, followed by Caleb Smith of the Diamondbacks in August. No suspensions were handed out last year, but it was reported in February the league was planning to further crack down this year.
Scherzer declined comment when speaking with Mets’ reporters this evening. He said only that his camp is “working on it” in reference to fighting the ban (relayed by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com). There’s sure to be more clarity on the appeals process over the next few days.
If Scherzer indeed has to sit out for a week and a half, it’ll deal another hit to a rotation already down Justin Verlander, José Quintana and Carlos Carrasco to injury. That has pushed David Peterson and Tylor Megill into the starting five alongside Kodai Senga and previously necessitated a spot start from José Butto.
Skipper Buck Showalter told reporters tonight that left-hander Joey Lucchesi will be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to start tomorrow’s game against the Giants (via Mike Puma of the New York Post). It’ll represent Lucceshi’s first MLB action in nearly two years. He lost all of last season to Tommy John surgery.