Detroit Tigers’ Max Scherzer Meets Bo Derek At Perfect 10
Max Scherzer came to the Detroit Tigers in an off-season trade after the 2009 season that was very controversial. Many Detroit partisans were very upset to see fan favorite Curtis Granderson leave in the deal not to mention pitcher Edwin Jackson who had just made the AL All-Star team in his solid debut season in Detroit. There was plenty of acrimony among chat rooms, talk radio, and the media.
Quite a few fans didn’t know a lot about the players returning to the Tigers. In fact the most well-known name may have been due to an NFL father/ESPN personality. Reliever Daniel Schlereth had potential as a reliever but his Super Bowl winning dad Mark Schlereth had the name recognition. Otherwise the names Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, and Phil Coke weren’t all that sexy to the masses.
How times have changed and Scherzer is now at the forefront. Scherzer has been a consistent building block in the Tigers rotation since roughly Memorial Day of his first season in Motown. (he did have a rough April in 2010 that necessitated a short stint in Triple-A but he has been in the rotation since) On Monday night in Detroit, Scherzer became the first MLB pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1997 to start a season 10-0. He also the first Tigers pitcher since 1909 to do so (George Mullin). Scherzer notched his tenth win by holding down the rather potent Baltimore Orioles offense to one run over six innings with 10 strikeouts on the evening.
Scherzer was probably not at his best in this one at times. He allowed 9 baserunners and his pitch count was not overly efficient as it has been of late. But Scherzer did knuckle down when the going was tough and was able to escape a couple of jams by drawing on his numerous weapons to flummox O’s batters when men were in scoring position. A sequence against slugger Chris Davis was probably the most notable in the 5th inning with the bases loaded. Scherzer did not cave in to the slugger (who had taken him deep earlier for the O’s only run) and kept pounding the outer half with 98-mph fastballs until the upper-cutting Davis finally had no choice to offer at what would be strike three with a futile defensive hack.
While raising Scherzer to 10-0 and putting him in contention for an All-Star game start and perhaps Cy Young chatter in due course, the start also helped the Tigers retain a 5-game lead in the AL Central over the surging Kansas City Royals. The Royals have won 11 of 13 and are in lockdown run prevention mode by allowing 3 runs or less in 15 of their last 16 games. Scherzer and his rotation mates will be the main forces in keeping the Tigers comfortably separated from BBQ-crew from KC.
Scherzer certainly has the peripheral stats to match the W/L record. Currently sporting a K/9 of 10.84, he is also walking a career low rate of batters with a BB/9 of 2.24. Also helping out is a career low rate of homers allowed with a HR/9 of 0.75. Scherzer’s ERA of 3.08 is not far out of line with “new metric” measures of a 2.51 FIP and an xFIP of 2.81. There really aren’t many “red flags” that are screaming regression other than a fairly low BABIP of .255.
But BABIP concerns aside, Scherzer has simply been impressive in all facets of his craft this season and the numbers back up all the eyes can see. It will be very fascinating to see if he can continue this run deep into the summer and just where he helps lead this rotation.
Anibal Sanchez and Alex Avila have hit the 15-day DL. Injuries are a mystery for all teams. You never know when they’ll rise up and bite. The Tigers were just celebrating the return of Austin Jackson and now they lose two more players. Sanchez is the one with the most concern. “Shoulder” is a bad word to mention when talking about troubles for pitchers. However the MRI evidently showed no structural damage and the Tigers hope he only misses two starts. Avila has a deep bruise on his forearm after getting smoked by a pitch in Minnesota and should be fine in due course.
Torii Hunter slammed career homer #300 on Sunday in Minnesota and he received a very warm recognition in Detroit on Monday night from the home faithful.
Miguel Cabrera came to life on Monday night, to break out of a quiet stretch, with a 3-hit performance including a majestic first inning blast into the right-center field seats off of O’s starter Jake Arrieta. It was another blast by Cabrera where he seemingly took an effortless, almost elegant, swing and generated monstrous opposite field power to clear the wall. Amazing stuff. Later Cabrera surprised young Manny Machado by beating out a chopper to third-base for a rare infield hit.