MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Scherzer blames faulty arm slot for struggles

Nats ace says fixing fastball problem is easy, but time-consuming

Scherzer blames faulty arm slot for struggles

SAN FRANCISCO -- After getting hit hard during an 8-5 loss to the Giants on Friday night, Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer was in front of the team's computer trying to figure out what was going wrong on the mound. He had his worst start of the season, lasting three innings and allowing six runs on seven hits.

Even worse, in his last 15 innings [three games], Scherzer has allowed 13 runs and raised his ERA to 2.73.

Scherzer said his arm slot is not right and he needs to work on his arm action for hours to get it right. When the arm slot isn't right, the fastball flattens out and goes to the middle of the plate. He had this problem with the Tigers in 2010 and figured it out within five days. Scherzer hopes to get it right for his next start next week.

"I get it. I stunk. There is no getting around that," Scherzer said. "... My arm slot is a little low right now. It causes my fastball to flatten out. When you think about the results tonight, a lot of damage was done against the fastball.

"It's going to take some work. You have to create a good habit with it. I have to throw the ball 10,000 times to a wall just to make sure I have this good habit. This isn't a huge fix, but it's a time-consuming fix."

Against San Francisco, Scherzer's fastball was flat and it started with the second hitter he faced, Matt Duffy, who hit a homer. But his worst inning was the second, when he allowed four runs. Gregor Blanco highlighted the scoring with a two-run double.

Duffy's solo home run

Scherzer kind of knew that his day was over when he allowed a home run to Hunter Pence in the third inning. That's right: Pence hit a fastball.

Scherzer said it's bad timing to have mechanical problems because the Nationals are trying to catch the first-place Mets in the National League East. Washington is currently 4 1/2 games behind New York.

"I think I can fix this within five days and get this ready to go so I can go out there and give the team the chance to win," Scherzer said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.