Scherzer: ‘Who knows’ how the new baseballs will play in 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The baseballs used by MLB players this season are going to be different than the ones used in recent seasons. In an effort to combat the recent spike in home runs, MLB worked with baseball manufacturing company Rawlings to reduce the tension of the ball’s winding. As a result, the ball will weigh slightly less and won’t bounce off bats as well as they have.
As much as that might be good news for pitchers, Nationals starter Max Scherzer said on a Zoom call Friday that he doesn’t plan to alter his approach to account for the new ball’s effects.
“The ball has been changing for me the past five years,” Scherzer said. “So who knows what the ball is gonna be. They say it’s gonna be deader, there’s been times it’s been livelier, who knows. We all are gonna have to deal with it so for me, mistakes are always gonna get hit. Whether it’s a home run or not, you’re still paying for it. You gotta be on top of your game and worry about what you do with the baseball, how you’re delivering the baseball vs. what the nature of the baseball is.”
Scherzer’s stance is consistent with the one he took in 2019 when MLB was accused of altering the balls to drive up home runs without informing players or the public. Houston Astros starter Justin Verlander complained to reporters about the alleged alterations, calling it a “f***ing joke” and saying “it’s not a coincidence” that the spike in homers occurred within a few years of Rob Manfred taking over as commissioner.
When asked for his thoughts on Verlander’s comments, Scherzer took a jab at his former Detroit Tigers teammate.
“I don't feel anything different with the ball, but we can all see the ball is definitely traveling differently,” Scherzer told ESPN’s Karl Ravech. “The commissioner has even come out and said so, that the drag is just different, it's less. Yeah, the ball's different, but you can't cry about it. You gotta go out there and pitch. I'm not gonna cry about it. Our hitters get to hit with it.”
Whether or not the ball was intentionally altered in 2019, MLB is being transparent now about how the baseball will behave in 2021. Scherzer knows the development could help him keep his home run rate down, but he’s not worried about it as spring training gets underway.