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Mets’ Max Scherzer flashes midseason form, but knows there’s ‘work to be done’

New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) prepares to throw a pitch against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches / Rich Storry – USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer took the ball for the Mets in Saturday night’s exhibition game against the Houston Astros.

The right-hander worked quickly and looked to be in mid-season form, dominating over seven scoreless innings of work in the 2-0 win. At one point the right-hander went on a stretch where he retired ten batters in a row, including six strikeouts.

Scherzer finished the night allowing just four hits and striking out eight while throwing 81 pitches. The only real damage against him was a one out Chas McCormick double in the bottom of the second.

Postgame, Scherzer told reporters the thing that made him so efficient was his ability to get first pitch outs.

“Anytime you can get some first pitch outs that’s going to keep your pitch count in line and keep you in rhythm. If you give up first pitch hits, then all of a sudden it’s a different story.”

Buck Showalter was certainly happy with that effectiveness, as it allowed them to stretch Scherzer up to the seventh up-down.

“It was good to get him that seventh, you don’t know how any times you’re gonna get the seventh. Took advantage of that low pitch count to get him the seventh up. That’s a good hurdle for us to cross,” the skipper said.

Although it was a terrific outing overall, the thing Scherzer was most happy about was being able to work on his slider against the Astros’ righty heavy lineup.

“Still a little in consistent but starting to execute better. Starting to be able to locate it down in the zone a little bit better. I’m starting to get ground balls on it. Now there’s some depth to it so their hitting it into the ground. I’m getting good results with that pitch specifically.”

Scherzer has been terrific this spring, allowing just one earned run in 11.2 innings of work. While the future Hall of Famer certainly looks ready for the regular season, he knows there’s more work to be done in these last few spring starts.

“You get to this point and you get itching and ready to go, but these last two starts are big. This is when you’re building your endurance, you’re building the ups, you’re building the pitch count. You think you’re ready for the season but there’s still a lot to gain from these last two outings. There’s still work to be done to make sure you’re absolutely ready for Opening Day.”

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