If Max Scherzer’s biggest test was proving that his fastball is back, he passed his first test on Friday.
Scherzer sat at 93-94 mph, and one scout had him touching 98 mph in his abbreviated 3 1/3 inning outing during Friday’s nigh exhibition against Shreveport. He struck out the side in the second inning and struck out six overall while allowing one hit.
Scherzer relied almost exclusively on his fastball during his 54-pitch outing. He occasionally slipped in a slider as well, but his fastball was enough to overmatch most of the Sports’ hitters.
“He overmatched the hitters he’s facing,” Fort Worth manager Stan Hough said. “His fastball was overpowering and he had decent command of it.”
According to Cats pitching coach Stan Hilton, Scherzer threw a little more than 50 percent strikes. His command got better as the game went along.
“My first concern was this is guy who hadn’t faced a hitter in a ball game in so long,” Hilton said of Scherzer, who had not pitched in a game since June 9, when he pitched for Missouri in a super-regional game at Cal State Fullerton. “My concern was his command wouldn’t be too good. First inning he was around the plate, but he was fine. Some of the pitches he threw were electric. As the game progressed, in the second and third inning his command got better.
“I think he showed exactly what everyone was hoping for. (The scouts) saw what I think they needed to see. It has to be pressure on him, but he handled it well.”
Hilton said that Scherzer’s slider during the game was better than the one he’s shown in side sessions, partly because he did a better job of staying on top of the pitch. He’s also featured an impressive changeup in his bullpen work, but he didn’t use it on Friday.
Scherzer will throw a side session again on Wednesday before making his first official appearance for the Cats on Saturday.