Scherzer: Better than last year?

The question has come up a couple different times to Max Scherzer, whose Cy Young season last year was downright dominant. After eight shutout innings and a season-high 14 stirkeouts, the question came up again.

After going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts last year, is Scherzer actually better this year?

“Coming off these last two starts and where I’m at, I’m a better pitcher than I was last year,” Scherzer said. “That was my mindset coming into this year: I was going to be a better pitcher than I was last year. Take all the numbers, throw them out. I’m not referencing wins and losses or anything. If you look at how I’m pitching, and what I’m able to execute, I’m executing all my pitches at a higher level right now. That’s something I strive for, and really it’s taken to the second half to kind of get everything in sync to be at that level. But I feel like I’m at a level where I’m better than I was last year. That’s my goal, to keep getting better.”

Statistically, he’s pretty close. His Fielding Independent Pitching is very close — 2.87 this year compared to 2.74 last season.

If you’re looking at the repertoire, though, he has an argument that he has improved. The transition he made away from being a fastball-slider pitcher and towards a four-pitch pitcher has continued this year, and with more progress.

His fastball, which comprised 60 percent of his pitches two years ago, was down to 53.6% entering this season, according to Fangraphs and STATS, down from 56% last year. His slider usage has dropped from 15.2% to 13.8%.

His curveball and changeup usage, in turn, have rise. The curveball, a pitch he didn’t use in games until around this point two years ago, now comprises 11 percent of his pitches.

That mix was on display Thursday, though maybe with a couple fewer curveballs than the season rates. According to data from’s Gameday app and, Scherzer threw 60 fastballs among his 115 pitches. Fifty-four were his traditional power four-seamers, drawing nine swings and misses out of 23 total swings. The data, however, suggested six other fastballs were the two-seamer Scherzer has been honing this season and keeping in his pocket for situations.

Scherzer threw more changeups (24) than sliders (22), threw nearly all of each for strikes, and drew a dozen swings and misses between the two. The nine curveballs he threw were effectively, including two whiffs.

“His fastball’s generally always good,” manager Brad Ausmus said after the game. “His changeup was very good. But his curveball, he threw a couple curveballs today harder than normal down and in on left-handed hitters, and he got a strikeout one. Usually his curveball’s more of an offspeed pitch on the outer half of the plate, and he’s been working on it a little bit throwing it harder on the inside part of the plate to lefties.”

Scherzer said he’s not throwing one or the other curveball differently; he’s just throwing them with a different amount of pressure.

For the season, data from STATS suggests those secondary pitches are better now. He’s throwing his slider, curveball and changeup for a higher percentage of strikes, getting a higher percentage of swings and misses from the changeup and curveball, and getting hitters to chase the changeup out of the zone nearly 40 percent of the time.

His fastball and slider are both getting hit harder (a .447 BABIP off the slider, compared to .212 last year). His curveball is getting hit at a slightly higher rate. The changeup is a better pitch all around.

“The fastball maintains a finish through the zone,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “The two-seamer, four-seamer, breaking ball plays extremely well against the right-handers. The changeup for the left-handers. He’s a horse out there. The volume of pitches he can throw and maintain velocity and command is impressive.”

When the Pirates put pitches in play Thursday, they tended to hit them well. Two of the three hits off of him were doubles, the other a line-drive single. All three were off the four-seam fastball.

They didn’t make contact often enough Thursday, though, and as long as he isn’t giving up many walks, it’s hard to make them count. He has now gone five starts without allowing a home run, one shy of his best mark from last year around the same time. If he can keep the ball away from catwalks at Tropicana Field next week, he’ll get it.

But there’s plenty more to like about the way Scherzer is throwing right now — and the way he’s feeling about the team around him.

“I feel great,” he said. “Arm’s healthy, especially now. We’re going to get a couple of off-days, which will kind of give me a chance to freshen up. We’ve got playoff baseball. These games are huge for the rest of the season. We’re in a fight right now, but that doesn’t change what I believe, that if we come to play we’re going to win this.

“I completely respect the other teams in our division — the Royals, Indians. It’s just that I believe in everybody in this clubhouse. I believe we have the talent to get it done. We just need to go out there and do it. We just need to play our game, bring our best every single day, bring our ‘A’ game, and let’s go win the American League Central.”


Great pitcher..gonna miss him. Hope he goes to the NL. Too bad Nathan & Joba have cost him 2 or 3 wins so far.

This weekend will be crucial. According to what I read, they will be facing 3 tough pitchers from Seattle while KC gets to visit Minnesota. On paper that doesn’t favor the Tigers getting back into 1st place very soon.

The schedule for KC is much more favorable
Detroit schedule. KC schedule
3 Seattle. 7 Minnesota
3 Tampa. 2 Colorado
11 Minnesota. 6 Texas ( Darvish now on DL)
3 Yankees. 4 Yankees
7 Chicago. 6 Cleveland
7 Cleveland. 6 detroit
6 KC. 7 Chicago
3 San Fran 4 Boston
We have two double headers

The Tigers have the 2nd toughest schedule for the 2nd half, and so far it’s been…….tough. They can play with anyone when going good so that’s the first key; to clean up their play. The second key is the head to head games with KC. That’s when it probably gets decided. Hoping for a psychological advantage on a young, but not as young as they were, Royals team.

Scherzer is pitching extremely well. I guess the money not spent on him can maybe bring some good talent.

That’s what I want to hear from our team leaders. Thank you, Max.

Hi Kathy,
Just want to mention that above all, we need to strengthen or get our relievers
set up properly….a stable relief rotation… appears
wishy, washy at this point….KC is all set up…are we? No stopper to speak of…
Yes, Thank you Max…wait a minute, isn’t this what he gets paid for? Well paid and expecting more…D you think he’ll be with the team next year…only if gets what he wants or whatever other teams may offer him…loyalty to a point….yes, thank you Max…Have to say he is doing an excellent job for the Tigers…


No, I don’t think he will be with the team next year.

Well he’s never been humble!

dumb question, but if you could switch JV and MS contract situations would you? I’d take max and say goodbye to the justin – in a heartbeat.

Not me,
Verlander never had the tank empty.
He went 130 to keep Valverde in the bullpen during the fifth game
When he was struggling after may, he was great in April and early May, he remained there until the 7th to avoid burning the bullpen
Scherzer will go the same road of Verlander soon. He is 30 YO already.
The Tigers traded for Price, he will make 20 MM before FA. There is no way to keep Scherzer unless they unload Sanchez and Kinsler.
Price should be here for long, if not, why they traded Smlyly?. Jackson is a Boras client and would have walk away too after 2015
BTW: Porcello will make 12 to 14 MM too before FA and 100 plus

Has anyone else heard about this? Is it possible? Has anyone heard of this guy before? Or is Henning just filling his quota?
— Bob

Probably your last sentence. 28 teams scouted him and he had private workouts with a few clubs. No mention was made of Detroit conducting a private workout.

Probably. But it does say the Tigers were “believed” to have a private session with him part way through the article. Whatever that sentence means.
— Bob

Thanks, Bob. I missed the “are believed to” because very little mention has been made of Detroit’s interest except they did have scouts look at him. Most of the press has Boston as the favorite.

Yes. I wrote about it a week ago:

I haven’t been able to confirm a private workout, but as I wrote last week, it wouldn’t surprise me. Every indication was that they were going to look at him again.

Thanks Jason. I must have missed that article. Sorry. It won’t happen again. LOL.
— Bob

Anybody notice Rajai excusing himself on the ball that EZ let drop between them?
Seemed a little terse to me!

As an old friend of the blog, pointed out somewhere else, maybe that why Davis sat the next day

He told the true but his mistake was doing that in public

It was the center fielders ball

And Carrera was running hard to get to it before sttoping unexpectedly and unreasonably. But you dont call out your teammate in public

If this is a serious pursuit of Castillo, Detroit manages to get what they want quite often. This is worth following.
On a related note, Austin Jackson has 11 singles and a double (.250) for Seattle, so he did cool off as expected. He’s still a great pickup for the Mariners and will probably haunt us this weekend. If anyone knew what they were getting, it’s Lloyd.

This is one lucky team that exploded for 3 in the 8th yesterday. The 9th inning would have been an interesting one had that not happened—–in more ways than one.

The shift is on! There have been a total of 11,434 shifts this season; in 2013, there were 8,134 used over the entire campaign

Sounds pretty shifty to me.

LOL. Groan.
— Bob

Sorry. I was out in the sun doing yardwork and I think I got streat hoke.

Lineup vs. SEA: Davis 8, Kinsler 4, Cabrera 3, V. Martinez DH, Hunter 9, J. Martinez 7, Castellanos 5, Holaday 2, Suarez 6. Porcello starts.

“Castillo’s wish is to play in the big leagues this season. In order for that to happen, he would have to play in minor league games first so that means getting signed soon. Castillo hasn’t played in an organized game in over a year.”
George King III( is that his real name?)

I have no idea if it’s his real name. Why do you ask? Is the III puzzling? If it is, the third generation of men in his family with that name. Most families don’t do the I, II, and III anymore.

King George III, the “mad” king.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s