Game 4 start shows Tigers’ caution with Scherzer
Max Scherzer spent most of the summer outpitching Justin Verlander atop the Tigers rotation. Max Scherzer is spending the postseason as a Game 4 starter, the only Tigers starter guaranteed only one start in the best-of-seven series.
He filled the role in the best-of-5 AL Division Series against Oakland, and the best-of-7 ALCS against the Yankees. He’ll do the same against the Giants.
Scherzer has one earned run and 18 strikeouts over 11 innings this postseason. It’s the type of pitching most teams would want to get as often as possible in a seven-game series. The Tigers are concerned about the flip side, not getting it at all. With three other starters pitching as well as they have all season, it’s a luxury they can afford to take.
“Some people have asked about should he pitch in the fourth game,” Leyland said Monday, “but because of his little bit of setbacks recently, not too recently, but with the celebration and prior to that with a little tired arm, we decided this was the best way to go.”
It all goes back to the shoulder. No matter what the results for Scherzer, and they’ve been increasingly positive since his return at the end of the regular season, the Tigers aren’t going to take a chance with it.
On one hand, team officials downplay the injury. When shoulder soreness scratched him from one start after two innings and erased his assignment from another with a week to go in the regular season, he was diagnosed with deltoid soreness, not tendinitis.
“I know everybody keeps talking about that [as a shoulder injury], but it was definitely muscular,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said last week. “They identified it quickly, so it was really more a matter of making sure he got it where it was rested again.
“Like [doctors] said, it’s just like a person that’s tired. But I was concerned as far as getting it up and going again.”
Even so, shoulder fatigue is enough for the Tigers to use caution. It’s not simply the injury itself, but the chance that trying to push too much to pitch through it could lead to something else.