For a lesson in dictating the pace of a baseball game, we now direct your attention to Max Scherzer.
The Washington Nationals ace took everyone’s pace-of-play concerns into his own hands during Friday’s 11-10 win against the Phillies, and the result was a strikeout pitch that Philadelphia’s Odubel Herrera didn’t know was coming until it was too late.
The showdown took place in the fifth inning. Herrera had two strikes on him when he decided to take his time getting settled in the batter’s box.
Though Herrera held up his hand signaling for time, Scherzer didn’t have time to waste. Apparently, neither did home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg, because he not only let what amounted to a quick pitch count, he didn’t hesitate ringing Herrera up.
Max Scherzer, Controlling the Tempo. pic.twitter.com/5AD8VMfOM5
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 9, 2017
Truth be told, that could have been dangerous.
Though Scherzer clearly wasn’t throwing anywhere near Herrera, he wasn’t ready. Even Matt Wieters, Scherzer’s own catcher, wasn’t ready when he went into his windup. Wieters never even gave a sign. If the pitch somehow gets away from Scherzer or Wieters doesn’t look in time, that may not have ended well.
Fortunately, he did look, and even better for everyone involved, the ball went right where Scherzer wanted it.
Well, everyone but Herrera.
He wasn’t thrilled that the pitch was allowed, but Kellogg wasn’t obligated to grant his request since he’d taken the previous pitch and still left the batter’s box. Batters are advised to stay in the box after taking a pitch, or the umpires can allow what happened here at their own discretion. Most of the time it feels like umpires don’t even pay attention to those details, but it’s possible Herrera’s reputation for taking his time caught up to him here.
Unfortunately for Herrera, this wasn’t even his low point in the game. That came earlier when he misjudged a Michael Taylor fly ball and then failed to hustle chasing it down, allowing Taylor to round the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam.
Needless to say, no National League player had a worse night then Odubel Herrera. Toronto’s Kevin Pillar sure gave him a run for his money on the American League side though.
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