New York Mets Pitcher Max Scherzer Suspended for Violating MLB’s Rules on Foreign Substances
New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer has been suspended for 10 games and fined $10,000 for violating Major League Baseball's (MLB) rules on foreign substances. The suspension comes after Scherzer was ejected from the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers for having a sticky substance on his hand. MLB believes that Scherzer used an illicit substance other than rosin, which is the only substance legal for pitchers to use. Scherzer, however, maintains that he used only “sweat and rosin,” which are legal substances according to MLB's rules. The suspension weakens the Mets' rotation, which is already missing injured starters Justin Verlander, Carlos Carrasco, and José Quintana. The Mets may have to reach into their bullpen to fill out the starting rotation over the next week.
MLB's announcement included a review of the events leading up to Scherzer's ejection. During a routine sticky-substance check after the second inning, an umpire told Scherzer to wash his hand. Upon Scherzer's return for the third, the same umpire found a questionable substance in his glove, so Scherzer changed gloves. Umpires then asked Scherzer to wash his hands following the second inning, and then asked him to replace his glove after finding a sticky substance in the pocket of his glove after the third inning. When the same umpire inspected both Scherzer's hands and glove in the middle of the fourth inning, he determined that Scherzer had not adequately followed instructions and threw him out of the game, triggering the suspension.
Pitchers typically use grip-enhancing substances to improve their control and improve their spin rates. Scherzer's spin rates on his fastball and slider, which tend to be higher when a pitcher uses sticky stuff to get a better grip, were essentially the same as his other starts this season. Scherzer maintained his innocence when he talked to reporters following the game, stating that he didn't use a sticky substance to get a better grip on the ball and that what the umpires felt was a mixture of sweat and rosin. Despite this, Bellino and Cuzzi contended that the level of stickiness on Scherzer's hand was above and beyond anything they had seen this season. On Thursday, Scherzer expressed his frustration with the subjective nature of sticky substance checks, although he did not refute the assertion.
MLB's decision to suspend Scherzer highlights the league's increased focus on enforcing its rules on foreign substances. In a memo distributed to teams last month, the league wrote that rosin “used excessively or otherwise misapplied (i.e., to gloves or other parts of the uniform) … may be determined by the umpires to be a prohibited foreign substance, the use of which may subject a player to ejection and discipline.” The memo also stated that players may not intentionally combine rosin with other substances (e.g., sunscreen) to create additional tackiness. The league has said that it will step up sticky substance inspections this season, both “in frequency and scope.
0. “Mets' Max Scherzer Responds to 10-Game Suspension for Illegal Substance on Hand” Bleacher Report, 21 Apr. 2023, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10073204-mets-max-scherzer-responds-to-10-game-suspension-for-illegal-substance-on-hand
1. “Mets' Max Scherzer won't appeal 10-game suspension by MLB for use of foreign substance” Newsday, 21 Apr. 2023, https://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/mets/max-scherzer-suspended-mets-ncjcxs2f
2. “Max Scherzer ejection: Mets ace tossed over sticky stuff inspection, insists mixture was ‘sweat and rosin'” CBS Sports, 19 Apr. 2023, https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/max-scherzer-ejection-mets-ace-tossed-over-sticky-stuff-inspection-insists-mixture-was-sweat-and-rosin
3. “Max Scherzer's relationship with MLB makes ejection more complex” Yahoo Sports, 20 Apr. 2023, https://sports.yahoo.com/mets-max-scherzers-relationship-mlb-030209878.html
4. “MLB Suspends Mets Ace Max Scherzer For Sticky Substance Use” NESN, 20 Apr. 2023, https://nesn.com/2023/04/mlb-suspends-mets-ace-max-scherzer-for-sticky-substance-use
5. “Mets pitcher Max Scherzer suspended 10 games” MLB.com, 21 Apr. 2023, https://www.mlb.com/news/max-scherzer-suspension-after-ejection-glove-inspection
6. “Mets Morning News: Max Scherzer gets ejected for sweat and rosin, Mets take series from Dodgers” Amazin' Avenue, 20 Apr. 2023, https://www.amazinavenue.com/2023/4/20/23690649/mets-morning-news-max-scherzer-ejected-sticky-sweat-rosin-dodgers-nimmo-syndergaard-new-york
7. “Max Scherzer Given 10-Game Suspension; Will Not Appeal” MLB Trade Rumors, 21 Apr. 2023, https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2023/04/max-scherzer-given-10-game-suspension-plans-to-appeal.html
8. “Major League Baseball has a sticky stuff enforcement problem” Yahoo Sports, 20 Apr. 2023, https://sports.yahoo.com/major-league-baseball-has-a-sticky-stuff-enforcement-problem-041733758.html
9. “Max Scherzer Is In A Sticky, Not Tacky, Situation” Defector, 20 Apr. 2023, https://defector.com/max-scherzer-is-in-a-sticky-not-tacky-situation