WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- There was a time last season Max Scherzer swore his injury situation was not related to pitch counts.
He emphatically expressed the idea to two reporters who laughed along during his profanity-filled explanation his back problem was not related to pitch counts. Scherzer even facetiously suggested keeping a tally of any reporter who wrote such words. By that juncture, well past the midway point of the season, he thought the cause had been figured out. So, no, it wasn’t usage or age. It was mechanics.
The middle of his back was carrying extra strain because his glove was high when driving toward the plate. Scherzer felt this small difference in his delivery, but wasn’t sure. He looked at film from 2016 and 2019. Then, it was clear. What he felt showed up in the footage.
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“The rhomboid, the paraspinals, all the muscles… my throwing mechanics were affecting those [muscles] and I could not figure out why,” Scherzer told NBC Sports Washington. “I think we identified that it was my front glove side. My front glove side was actually climbing up early as I was coming down the mound and that’s what was, when I was going to throw the baseball, creating all the pressure on the middle of my back. When I dropped down my front side, that actually alleviated the middle back and put all the stress back out on the lat and serratus, where it should be. And, I just had found a bad habit. It was actually a snap-of-the-finger fix and something that should have benefits going forward.”
Scherzer’s 27 starts last season were his fewest since becoming a full-time starter in 2009. He will start the season at age 35, then turn 36 on July 27 when the Nationals host Colorado. He pitched 4 ⅓ innings last year a day after turning 35 because he was on a limited pitch count when returning from his back and neck muscle strains. He expects to be full-go on his birthday this season, and much of what happens for the Nationals this year again rests with his right arm.
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