Nationals' ace Max Scherzer has not been afraid to voice his opinions during spring training thus far.
The 35-year-old had a strong stance on the Astros' scandal, stating he hopes the union and MLB can come together to ensure something like it never happens again. Additionally, he strongly advocated against a new proposed playoff format, one that would have seven teams in each league make the postseason instead of five.
Earlier this week, Scherzer was asked what's one rule he would change if he were the commissioner of Major League Baseball. His response, although a minor detail in the game, is one many pitchers probably agree with him on.
"There'd be little things, but let's start with the dropped third strike," Scherzer told NBC Sports Washington. "That's gotta go."
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The rule is such: if a batter swings and misses on the third strike but the catcher doesn't catch the pitch cleanly, the batter can then run to first base and force the catcher to make a throw to first in order to record the out.
Scherzer specifically referenced one time the dropped third strike really impacted him and the Nationals as a whole.
"It's always been a pet peeve of mine, but especially in Game 5 against the Cubs," Scherzer said. "It came back and really bit me in the butt."
In the 2017 NLDS, the Nationals were leading the Cubs by a run in the fifth inning of the decisive Game 5 when Scherzer came in to pitch. After retiring the first two batters, Scherzer started to struggle. Wilson Contreras and Ben Zobrist each singled. Then Addison Russell doubled down the left-field line, bringing in both runners and giving the Cubs a 5-4 lead.
After the ensuing batter, Jason Heyward, walked, Scherzer then struck out Javy Baez, which should have ended the inning. But the strikeout pitch went in between catcher Matt Wieters' legs. As the catcher tried to throw Baez out at first, his toss was off target and got by both first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and second baseman Daniel Murphy, skirting into right field. This allowed Russell to score from second. Another run would come in before Scherzer eventually retired the side.
The Cubs would hold off a Nationals' comeback and win, 9-8, advancing to the NLCS. Those two runs that the Cubs scored in the fifth inning after Baez' strikeout would not have happened if the dropped third strike rule was not in place.
"I really have a disdain for that rule," Scherzer said.
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