Max Scherzer #21 of the New York Mets stands on...

Max Scherzer #21 of the New York Mets stands on the mound during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on Sunday, July 16, 2023. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Max Scherzer thinks he has solved the mystery of his untrustworthy slider — yes, again.

The pitch has presented periodic problems for him this season, but after the Mets’ 2-1, 10-inning victory over the Dodgers on Sunday, he said he really, truly has fixed it this time.

And the eureka moment stemmed from mud in his cleats on a rainy day at Citi Field.

“Once I finally had some mud in my cleats, my cleats were a little bit heavier. In the fourth inning, I realized I wasn’t picking my foot up as high — and all of a sudden the slider was getting down,” Scherzer said after his seven scoreless innings. “I was like, could it really be this simple?”

He cleaned his shoes, returning them to their normal weight, and upon returning to the mound for the fifth inning, he focused on “taking my left foot and really trying to drive it down into the ground more so, an extra click,” he said.

As it had in the inning before, when the dirt tipped him off, the slider moved the way he wanted.

“Boom, that’s all it was,” he said. “That’s the simplest, stupidest answer there is. But that’s pitching.”


Scherzer’s slider is his second-most-frequently-used pitch behind his fastball. This year, opposing batters have hit .292 and slugged .639 against it — stunningly high figures. Last season, for example, those numbers were .183 and .232.

He previously thought he fixed it by tweaking the grip, but that proved to not be the case. But now he is certain it had to do with his lead leg all along.

“I really do [believe so],” he said. “I’ve lost a lot of sleep trying to figure out what it is. You sit there and try to think [about] all the little hand stuff that’s going on, you try to reinvent the wheel. And it’s just not it. It’s something else.”

In two starts against the Dodgers this season, Scherzer has allowed two hits and no runs in 10 innings. That includes his three-inning April outing, which ended when he was deemed to be using a foreign substance and ejected.

This time his dominance — and slider — helped the Mets end a four-game losing streak.

“Max was the difference in the game today,” manager Buck Showalter said. “I know that won’t be forgotten.”


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