Monday, June 24, 2013

Max Scherzer off to a 11-0 Start

Max Scherzer has always had hit and miss stuff since he was a top prospect with the Diamondbacks. He had some success, but never to this extent. Last season, Scherzer had one of his best seasons, finishing second in the American League with 231 strikeouts. He went 16-7, but had a 3.74 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. This season, he has improved his ERA to 3.05 and his WHIP has been cut down to 0.91, which ranks among the best in the league. He's now a pitcher, instead of just a hard thrower. He's been going deeper into games and allowing less baserunners. He's off to a better start than ace Justin Verlander this year. Scherzer has a perfect 11-0 record to start the year.

With Tigers manager Jim Leyland managing the American League squad, Scherzer could be the All Star starter. Recently, Leyland suggested that he would make Mariano Rivera a starter to honor him in his last season, but Rivera was lukewarm to the idea, preferring to close out the game. Regardless of who starts, Scherzer will most surely be making his first All Star appearance in New York. With Verlander, Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, and Doug Fister, the Tigers have one of the best rotations in the league. It's not a team other teams want to play in October, unless they had a week long break before the World Series.

Scherzer grew up in the St. Louis area and went to college at Mizzou. He was drafted out of high school by the Cardinals in the 43rd round, but Scherzer opted for Mizzou instead of his hometown team. Looking back, Scherzer might regret that, but it would be hard to pass up a college scholarship as a 43rd round pick. Three seasons later, Scherzer was drafted in the first round by the Diamondbacks. He was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball at that time, and made his major league debut two years later in 2008.

In 2009, Scherzer played his first full season with Arizona. He had mixed results, going 9-11 with a 4.12 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. He did strikeout 174 batters in 170.1 innings pitched. 2009 would end up being Scherzer's last season with the D-Backs. He was traded in part of a six player, three team deal involving the Yankees, Tigers, and Diamondbacks. The centerpiece of the deal was Curtis Granderson, who went from the Tigers to Yankees. The Yankees then sent Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Tigers, and Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks, who sent Daniel Schlereth and Scherzer to Detroit.

This would turn out to be an important deal for the Tigers. They lost Granderson, who had some big years with New York in the following seasons, but gained four young players. Schlereth had some moderate success as a reliever, but was released earlier this year. Coke has been a solid pitcher out of the bullpen for the Tigers since then, but has had some problems this year. Jackson took of Granderson's center field spot. Jackson is a better defender, but doesn't have Granderson's power. Scherzer has been the most valuable player out of the trade, winning 54 games in three and a half seasons with Detroit. Granderson hasn't played much this year due to injuries, but the Tigers have three players to show for the deal four seasons later. Scherzer, Coke, and Jackson were all key member of last year's World Series club.

Scherzer is off to a career year this season and is only 9 wins away from 20 and it's still in June. He is on pace for career highs in ERA, WHIP, innings pitched, and strikeouts. His 3.05 season ERA is much better than his 3.79 career ERA and his 0.91 WHIP is a significant improvement from his 1.25 career WHIP. He's looking like the type of pitcher he was projected to be this season.

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