Scherzer battles control, but still finds success

LAKELAND, Fla. -- When Max Scherzer has his best stuff with control, he's tough to hit, as he showed last summer. When he doesn't have his control, he's still tough to hit for different reasons, as he showed early last season.

His start against the Mets on Friday was much of the latter. He wasn't entirely happy about it, but he'll take it.

In 11 batters, Scherzer had six strikeouts, three walks and just two balls put in play. Both of those came from Jordany Valdespin, who flied out to left field in the opening inning before grounding out to second to close Scherzer's outing in the third.

"I don't like the walks," Scherzer said. "Obviously, I want to be throwing strikes. But if you look at my stuff, I thought all my offspeed pitches were really good today. I was generating swing-and-misses on both the slider and the changeup. At the end, I threw a few curveballs for strikes, which shows that pitch is coming along, too."

Mets hitters swung and missed on 10 of Scherzer's 49 pitches, including the 75-mph curveball he dropped on Ruben Tejada for a strikeout leading off the third. It's a slow breaking ball that he began tinkering with last season and is trying out this spring to see if it disrupts hitters' timing.

"That's just another wrinkle I'm trying to incorporate," Scherzer said.

Scherzer doesn't face the choice of Rick Porcello, who has thrown curveballs instead of sliders so far this spring. With the feel Scherzer has for his slider, though, he felt comfortable trying the curveball without worrying about any impact on his other pitches.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.