Results tagged ‘ Max Scherzer ’

Early spring training Tigers rotation is set

While Tigers manager Brad Ausmus doesn’t have a season-opening rotation order yet, his rotation for the first few games of Spring Training is set. It’ll begin with prospect Drew VerHagen, who will start the team’s traditional opening exhibition with Florida Southern College next Tuesday at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Before you start speculating about VerHagen’s chances to knock on Detroit’s door as a potential sixth starter in case of injury, remember that Tigers top pitching prospect Andy Oliver started against the Mocs two years ago, the last time the exhibition led off the Spring Training game.

From there, the projected Major League rotation begins to slot in. Drew Smyly, back in a starting role, will lead off the Tigers’ Grapefruit League slate against the Braves next Wednesday at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex, followed by Rick Porcello in the back half the home-and-home set against the Braves Thursday at Lakeland.

The Tigers’ first split-squad day Friday will feature the reigning Cy Young winner and an insurance starter. Max Scherzer will face the Yankees in Lakeland, while Jose Alvarez makes the trip to Clearwater to face the Phillies.

Ausmus had already ruled out Justin Verlander from the first turn through the Spring Training rotation as he builds up his workload following core muscle surgery. The goal is to get Verlander five starts this spring, which should be enough to stretch him out for the start of the season.

Alvarez, who filled in for Anibal Sanchez while he was on the disabled list last summer, could provide an insurance plan if Verlander suffers a setback and isn’t ready for the start of the season.

In many springs under Leyland, the early rotation would provide a clue on the Opening Day starter if you counted out five game days from each start. Sure enough, Scherzer’s start Feb. 28 would put his spot on turn for March 31 if everybody stays in order (and if you consider the Tigers’ off-day March 19 as a day for someone to start a minor-league game, as has been the case in recent years). Because neither Verlander nor Sanchez have been slotted in yet, it’s a little fuzzier, but for now, it looks like a much easier path to Opening Day for Scherzer than anyone else.

Scherzer mum on contract front, open-minded on new manager

If you were expecting some sort of new revelation from Max Scherzer on his contract situation or his situation in general when he reported to camp on Friday, it wasn’t happening. Scherzer reiterated his previous remarks from TigerFest: He wants to remain a Tiger, the Tigers are interested in keeping him, and he doesn’t want to negotiate once the season begins. However, he didn’t want to get into questions about contract talks, to the point that he didn’t answer whether contract talks were taking place.

“I’m not discussing negotiations with the media,” Scherzer said. ‘Those are private.”

Asked if he feels like he’ll be a Tiger a year from now, Scherzer said, “I just can’t answer that. I can’t even speculate like that. I hope it does, but in reality, you can never dictate whether these things happen or don’t. If it does, great. If not, we’ll hopefully resolve it in November. For me, now that I’m here in Spring Training, my focus right now is all about getting on the field and trying to win.”

Come Opening Day, that focus will have no room for contract issues.

“If it’s not done by Opening Day, then I’m not going to negotiate during the season,” he said. “This can be a major distraction. I understand I have a chance to secure my future here with the team. I want that to happen. But at the same time, I’m not going to drag negotiations out into the season. That’s unfair to the team, unfair to me and my teammates. They don’t need to have that type of thought process going on. For me, I’m all about [being] here to win.”

More from Scherzer:

  • On expectations coming off last year’s Cy Young season: “My mindset is that you never stay the same, as a pitcher, as an athlete. You either get better or you get worse. Those are the only two options that go on. And so my mindset going into Spring Training this year is I’m going to get better. I’m going to find ways to be better than I was last year. I might not have the record or some of the numbers I was able to accomplish last year, but I can be a better pitcher than I was last year. And that’s my goal.”
  • On opening message from new manager Brad Ausmus: “Same stuff: We’re here to work. Nothing out of the ordinary. It’s exactly what every manager says at this time of year. Obviously we believe we have a chance to win. It’s going to take hard work to get there, and there are no shortcuts.”
  • On whether there’s a culture change: “When you have a team that’s made it three times to the ALCS, you don’t need a culture change. Skip was great. We appreciate everything that he did. He gave everything he could, all the way to the end. Obviously his time has come. I think Brad is going to pick up where he left off and add new stuff and make us even better.”

Scherzer’s market value: 7 years, $196 million?

Those are the numbers floated out by Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN in his latest piece Monday (ESPN Insider subscription required). That fits with reports earlier this offseason that Scherzer and agent Scott Boras were seeking contract terms matching or surpassing what Justin Verlander agreed to last spring.

It’s a huge commitment, but it’s not hard to see Scherzer getting that on the open market next winter. Bowden, however, thinks the Tigers could at least come close enough to keep him. Scherzer and Boston’s Jon Lester are Bowden’s two picks for pending free-agent starters most likely to sign new contracts by Opening Day.

 Even though Scherzer is represented by Scott Boras, who prefers to take his clients to free agency, it appears Scherzer prefers to remain loyal to the Tigers — if they’re willing to pay him close to his market value of seven years, $196 million.

Tigers President Dave Dombrowski has a long history of doing deals with Boras, and the moves Dombrowski has made this offseason to reduce payroll give him enough room to get this deal done.

Verlander signed last spring for seven years and $180 million guaranteed, with a $22 million vesting option for 2020 that would be guaranteed if he finishes in the top five in 2019 Cy Young voting. If you count the option, then Verlander had the first $200 million contract for a pitcher, but Clayton Kershaw was the first to get $200 million guaranteed.

Both Team Boras and the Tigers are keeping pretty quiet on the Scherzer front these days. Dave Dombrowski is scheduled to have one more media session later this week before heading to Lakeland.

Scherzer: “This is the place I want to be”

The Tigers had a slew of players available at Comerica Park this afternoon for an hour-long media session to lead off their winter caravan, but from the moment the doors opened, Max Scherzer was the headliner. He did not disappoint. Actually, judging by his willingness to discuss his contract situation, he might have surprised a little.

“We’ve had conversations,” he said. “The biggest thing was hammering out 2014 and getting the arb case settled. That was important for me to have that secured. …

“Honestly, this is the place I want to be. I’m comfortable here. I love being part of the Tigers. So hopefully we can get something done before Spring Training, otherwise I’m confident after the season we can completely resolve this.”

Those rank as the most upbeat quotes from either side on the chances at a contract extension. Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski has maintained that they want to keep Scherzer, but has left it at that. Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras, has acknowledged Scherzer’s interest in staying in Detroit but has otherwise kept quiet, perhaps uncharacteristically so.

Scherzer decided coming in that he was going to be up-front about his situation, at least until he starts pitching again.

“I don’t have anything pressing,” Scherzer said. “Nothing’s pending or anything, but I’m sure conversations will pick up, and that’s something the front office and Scott will discuss at great length.”

They’ll discuss it in the few weeks leading up to Spring Training, and maybe as camp unfolds. Once the season begins, however, Scherzer doesn’t want to talk about a new deal, either with the Tigers or the press.

“Absolutely not,” Scherzer said. “That would be too much of a distraction to be sitting here thinking about that. If it doesn’t get done soon, then I’m more than comfortable playing 2014 on a one-year deal.”

Another strong season in 2014 could propel Scherzer into position as the top free agent in next winter’s market. He doesn’t need reminding of the ramifications. The former business economics student at the University of Missouri has served as the Tigers’ union representative, so he knows what each new standard-setting contract means for players and teams alike.

When asked his reaction to Clayton Kershaw’s record-setting contract, Scherzer laughed. But he also acknowledged the impact for others, including him.

“He’s on such a different planet, how good he is,” Scherzer said. “He’s in a different realm. I think that was a good thing for all of Major League Baseball.”

He also wasn’t going to deny the enticement of free agency, being able to choose where to play and let the market play out.

“That’s every player’s strategy. I mean, every player wants to be a free agent,” Scherzer said. “But at the same time, you realize we’ve got a good thing here in Detroit. We’ve got a great team, great teammates, so much talent and a chance to win it all. So for me, this is a place where I want to be.

“Going forward, I’m hopeful we can come to some terms on what we can do in the future. But if it doesn’t happen in the near term, I’m sure we can get this done in the offseason.”

Scherzer: I realize I’ve got a good thing going

Two days after Max Scherzer said on his Cy Young Award conference call that he’s open to a contract extension with the Tigers, both Scherzer and agent Scott Boras went into a little more detail Friday on MLB Network Radio with Jim Bowden. Long answer short, Scherzer understands why the Tigers would consider trading him if they can’t re-sign him, he’s open to re-signing, but they haven’t had any talks yet.

“When you’ve been traded before in your career, you get the business side of the game,” Scherzer said, “and you also get the payroll obligations that we have in Detroit. I get it. I get there’s an element where there’s a possibility where it would make sense for Detroit to trade me. But at the same time, I don’t want to be traded. I’ve got a great thing going in Detroit. We have a great team. I hope they don’t mess with it. I want to be a Detroit Tiger and hopefully get back to the playoffs and try to do the ultimate goal and win something for the city of Detroit.”

On talks with Boras and the Tigers about an extension, Scherzer said, “We’ve talked about it, an extension, just that we’re open to it. No actual dialogue has been talked or anything like that. I realize I got a good thing going here in Detroit. We’ve got a great team. We’ve got great guys around, I’ve got great teammates around me. And then we’ve got Miguel Cabrera. I mean, who would want to leave and actually want to face that guy? (laughs)  For me, I like Detroit. It’s just gonna see how the business game works out and whether or not we go down that path.”

Boras, for his part, characterized the trade rumors as due diligence on Dave Dombrowski’s part.

“Dave is over there managing the crown jewels there. and I’m sure he’ll invite a number of people to come in and look at all of his diamonds,” Boras said. “But in the end. I don’t think Dave is in the business of anything other than what Mr. Ilitch’s goal is, and that is to win a world championship. And I’m sure it is Dave’s goal.

“It is very understandable, as you know, that when a great young player, one of the best pitchers in the game, is on a one-year contract and will be a free agent, these discussions are always had, whether they are public or not. And the reason they are had is that it is good due diligence on the part of any general manager to know what teams are willing to do, because it allows you then to know, if you want to make any other trades of any of your other players, who really is available from them. So, to me, it is a way to invite discussion on who is available on other teams so that you really know what you could do if you didn’t want to trade Max and you may want to trade others.”

Boras represents several other Tigers players, notably Austin Jackson and Prince Fielder, but Scherzer is the one Boras client among the starting pitchers. Rick Porcello’s original contract out of the draft was negotiated by Boras, though Porcello is currently represented by Jim Murray.

Scherzer to MLB Network: No talks on contract extension

Max Scherzer made an appearance on MLB Network’s Hot Stove morning program and talked on a wide range of topics, from new manager Brad Ausmus to what went awry in the playoffs. He said Ausmus called him earlier this week and introduced himself and he was impressed.

“He called me up the other day and I talked with him for a bit,” Scherzer said. “I think we made a great hire. For him, his pedigree speaks volumes. He caught in the big leagues for 18 years. I think with his knowledge of the game, he’s going to be able to fit right in for us and take us where we need to go.”

Whether Scherzer actually makes a start for him, of course, remains to be seen.

Scherzer is staying out of speculation over a potential trade, saying that’s part of the business. But he also said that there are no talks going on about a contract extension, at least to his knowledge.

“We really haven’t had too much talk previously about an extension,” Scherzer said. “Taking care of one this offseason, really I haven’t even approached it. I haven’t even stepped back and thought about it, just because we’re not at the right time to discuss a contract. I’m sure something can be talked about throughout the winter.”

Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras, said earlier this fall that he anticipated talking with the Tigers about a potential extension this offseason. Boras has a well-earned reputation for believing players, especially pitchers, should test the free-agent market when they get close to free agency, a factor that played into the trade that brought Scherzer to the Tigers four years ago (Detroit strongly believed Edwin Jackson was going to test the market in a couple years). That said, Boras pitchers have signed extensions ahead of free agency, Jered Weaver being a notable example.

Fitting a potential Scherzer extension into payroll is another matter, which is why it wasn’t lost on reporters have team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said unprompted that they have a surplus of starting pitchers.

“We have some pieces we need to fit together. I mean, we do have six starters at this point,” Dombrowski said Sunday. “People are aware of that, with [Drew] Smyly being available to start.”

Ken Rosenthal, part of the Hot Stove show, said earlier in the show that the Nationals are looking for an elite starting pitcher and could be a good fit for a deal, because of their depth in young power pitchers and their strong relationship with Boras (gee, that sounds familiar).

Scherzer tried to downplay the speculation.

“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I understand the business of the game and the reality of the payroll. And so, I mean, I get it. But at the same time, for me, I want to be a Detroit Tiger. I’ve been in Detroit for four years and we’ve had a great run. With all the friends that you have on the team, you just want that to continue, so hopefully it can.”

Postscript on Scherzer

About this time yesterday, I was noting five keys for Max Scherzer to have better fortunes against the A’s in Game 1 than he did in August. Because the A’s were going to stack up left-handed batters and switch-hitters against him, I emphasized the curveball. Turns out the changeup did just fine.

The stats from were impressive. Scherzer threw 25 changeups. A’s hitters swung at 22 of them, and whiffed on 10. That’s more swings and misses than Scherzer got against the A’s on ALL of his pitches in August. Only one of the six changeups put in play last night went for a base hit.

The way Scherzer talked about the game plan after the game didn’t sound like the changeup was originally going to be a big part of it.

“When you’re pitching, you go on your instincts,” Scherzer said. “Alex [Avila] and I had a game plan that we wanted to do early in the game and when you get in the game, sometimes it changes. And today we noticed that my fastball seemed pretty good and my changeup seemed pretty good. So early in the game, I was featuring those two pitches a lot and we had some success there in the game because of that. And that’s why I thought I was able to get in the groove and pitch deep into the game, because of those two pitches.”

That’s the type of adjustment Justin Verlander thrives on, and Scherzer has become better at making the last couple years. That’s not to say that Scherzer will shut down a team on his third- or fourth-best pitch like Verlander has done, but it means he can react to what hitters are trying to do against him. It’s also an example of why Avila works so well with these pitchers.

Other notes from the outing …

  • Scherzer used just 14 pitches to get through the opening inning, compared with 25 and 29 during his two regular-season meetings with the A’s this year. He also needed 14 pitches in the fourth. He didn’t have any innings shorter than that, but he didn’t have a 20-pitch inning until his last, when the A’s got 22 out of him. That relative efficiency early pretty much bought him the seventh inning, and it made the bullpen much more manageable.
  • Scherzer threw first-pitch strikes to 18 out of 26 hitters, compared with 15 out of 24 in August.
  • The A’s fouled off 26 pitches from Scherzer over seven innings, compared with 23 over five. The difference, however, was that just a handful of them came with two strikes to extend at-bats. In many cases, the foul balls came earlier in the count to put Scherzer ahead.
  • Oh, the curveball? Scherzer threw seven of them, five for strikes, none for swings and misses.

Jeff Jones on Scherzer: “We’ll keep him calmed down”

A year after Justin Verlander’s infamous All-Star first inning, nobody on the Tigers is trying to hide from it. But it’s also clear that nobody wants a repeat of it. The fact that Max Scherzer has his regular coaching staff around him this time, including highly trusted pitching coach Jeff Jones should help.

Scherzer has joked a few times about not taking the mound with too much energy like Verlander did. But just in case, Jones said earlier Tuesday that he’s going to check on his 13-game winner beforehand.

“We’ll talk about that,” Jones said. “I’m going to tell him I want you to come out and pitch the same way you do in the first inning of any game. Because I don’t think it’s going to be beneficial commandwise at the mound to try to do more. There’s no sense in getting out of whack while you’re here.

 “You don’t want to change anything. We’ll talk about it. We’ll keep him calmed down.”

Does this week’s pitching reveal next week’s rotation order?

Long answer short: Not sure, but there are some clues.

Jim Leyland said Tuesday he still wasn’t ready to reveal his rotation order after Justin Verlander’s Opening Day assignment, even after announcing Rick Porcello will complete the rotation. This is now getting into bizarre territory; usually when the Tigers open a season on the road, Leyland announces his starter for the home opener shortly after his Opening Day starter, if not at the same time. At this point, we still don’t know who that might be. Whether it has anything to do with the Twins having not announced their starters yet is anyone’s guess.

What we have right now, though, is a pitching order for the final games of Grapefruit League play. Justin Verlander will get his final spring tuneup on Wednesday, then Anibal Sanchez on Thursday, then Max Scherzer on Friday, then Doug Fister on Saturday. Verlander is starting on an extra day of rest Wednesday so that he can be on turn for Monday on his regular four days’ rest.

It’s possible the Tigers could slot Sanchez, Scherzer and Fister in order from there and have them all pitching on an extra day’s rest. It’s also possible Scherzer and Fister could close out the series in Minnesota on four days’ rest each, though it seems unlikely they’d make Sanchez wait more than a week before his first regular-season start. All we can gather for sure is that there’s no way Fister could go from wrapping up his spring training on Saturday to starting off his regular season on Wednesday, especially the way he has pitched.

The widespread belief in recent weeks has been that Scherzer would start the home opener as a reward for last season. However, he has been very good pitching at Target Field the last couple years (3-0 in 3 starts, 4 runs, 14 hits, 19 1/3 innings, 23 strikeouts). Now, he would be on six days’ rest going into the home opener, two more days than normal. Fister doesn’t have that same history in Minnesota, though he has been good at Comerica Park since becoming a Tiger.

To get back to the original question: You can read quite a bit into this week’s order and come up with a good guess at the rotation. I wouldn’t be ready to swear to that quite yet, though.

Tigers, Scherzer agree on one-year contract

They came closer than ever to a hearing, but the Tigers have avoided arbitration for another year. They reached a one-year agreement with Max Scherzer on Monday to do so, just as arbitration hearings were beginning in Arizona.

The two sides agreed on a contract that will pay Scherzer $6,725,000, according to Jon Heyman of That’s the midway point between the Tigers’ submission of a $6.05 million salary and Scherzer’s submission of $7.4 million. No initial word on why the two sides agreed to the midpoint now.