Max Scherzer Throws First Rehab Start, Offers Take on Robo Umps

After offseason back surgery, Max Scherzer was glad to get back into a real game, even if it was called by a robo umpire.

Max Scherzer
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 26: Max Scherzer #31 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Minnesota Twins on August 26, 2023 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

Sometimes what would normally be a random Wednesday, dollar hot dog night can turn into a chance to witness greatness. That is what happened last night in Round Rock, TX as future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer took the mound for the Triple-A, Round Rock Express. It was his first rehab start after recovering from offseason back surgery.

The stat line wasn’t outstanding, although Scherzer did show flashes of his strikeout prowess. Through 2.1 innings and 52 pitches, he allowed three runs, on five hits (2 home runs), walked none, and struck out four.

From the outside looking in, the start was a disappointment from a results standpoint. But Scherzer was approaching the outing as a first outing in Spring Training. He was working on building his arm and throwing strikes and in the post-performance press conference seemed pleased with where he is in the process.

Scherzer’s Self-Assessment

In talking about a first inning homerun that he allowed to the left-handed hitting outfielder Jason Martin – who is a former Texas Ranger – Scherzer was actually happy with his pitch execution.

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“The first home run, that’s a 3-2 changeup. I want to throw that changeup for a strike. If I throw that for a ball, I’m actually more mad,” Scherzer said. “The fact that he hit a homer on it, it’s almost a good thing. That means I’m throwing strikes. I would rather throw a strike than walk him.”

Scherzer did follow that up with the fact that in a few more starts he will want to get “a little more results based”. Again, similar to ramping up in Spring Training.

When asked where he was and felt this is what Scherzer had to say. “The three innings, the three ups, that is kind of where I’m at. I feel good. Arm is fatigued as it should be, that’s kind of how it goes. But I like where everything is at. Physically I feel good.”

That is huge news for the Texas Rangers and their hopes to make the playoffs this year. A healthy Scherzer is going to help that cause.

The next few days will be important for Scherzer to make sure that he does indeed bounce back physically from his first outing under the lights since last year’s World Series. As he pointed out, “there is just another gear to it” in reference to pitching in an actual game versus the sim games that he has been throwing.

Max Scherzer’s Thoughts on Automated Strike Zone

After breaking down how he felt physically and where he is in the process of things, I had the opportunity to ask Scherzer what he thought of the automated strike zone that was in place last night in Round Rock.

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His answer was very well thought out and not something that he was shooting from the hip on. Scherzer has obviously spent quite a bit of time deliberating the robo ump idea and I’m glad that he got to discuss it immediately after a start in which it was in place.

“I’m not a fan. I want a human back there judging calls. It seems too weird to have a robot call the game.”

That was Scherzer’s short answer. The long answer was to follow.

“I’ve kind of thought about this. I think when you talk to the guys, we want the human element of the game. The human element of the game is good, and we need to keep that in baseball. I figure we’ve done so much in baseball to try to remove the human element.”

Umpire Relegation System

And as far as how Scherzer would setup up a relegation system for the umpires, this is what he had to offer.

“For me going forward, how I’ve conceptualized what the electronic strike zone should be used is we need to rank the umpires. Let the electronic strike zone rank the umpires, and then we need to have a conversation about the bottom 10 percent or whatever you want to declare what the bottom is and talk about relegating those umpires to the minor leagues and getting the best umpires in the game.”

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“When I’m out there pitching, if you told me I have the 10th best umpire or the 75th best umpire, you don’t really notice much between them because they’re really good at their jobs. The umpires are actually really good. It’s really the bottom umpires we all have a problem with. If there was a mechanism to make the umpires on the bottom better, I think that would be a better way to address this.”

Overall Scherzer obviously feels, like most of us, that the umpires in general are very good. It is the bottom few that everyone has issues with, and they should be held accountable and to a higher standard.

What is Next for Scherzer?

With the Rangers not getting out to a hot start, a healthy Scherzer can’t get to Arlington soon enough. With the minor leagues off on Mondays, he will be making his second rehab start next Tuesday which will come on five days rest and not four.

It is yet to be determined where that start will come, but it will be on the road no matter what. The Round Rock Express will be in Albuquerque, while the Frisco Rough Riders (Double-A) will be in Corpus Christi.