Results tagged ‘ Max Scherzer ’
The good news for the Tigers on injured starter Max Scherzer was that he said his shoulder felt better on Friday than it did on Thursday.
“I do have more range than I did yesterday,” Scherzer said Friday afternoon from Target Field, “so it’s a step in the right direction.”
The bad news, or at least the non-news, for the Tigers is that it doesn’t make Scherzer’s return any clearer, either for the regular season or beyond. At this point, you could pretty much flip a coin on whether he’ll start Wednesday at Kansas City.
“If I had to handicap it, I’d say maybe 50-50 for Wednesday,” manager Jim Leyland said, “but I’m not counting on it.”
The deltoid soreness that scuttled any plans of starting him against the Twins Friday night, Scherzer said, “should subside fairly soon.” From there, however, there remains the process of getting his arm stretched out and pitching tested.
His final hurdle to pitching in a game will be a full bullpen session, in which he throws all of his pitches off a mound. Whether he can do that in the next three or four days is anything but clear.
“From a physical standpoint, I think I could be there,” Scherzer said, “but I have to be smart and not get caught up in that.”
Scherzer also said he can’t get caught up in the playoff race and try to push himself if he isn’t ready. Yet if the division title isn’t still in play, Scherzer probably isn’t going to be pitching Wednesday in Kansas City.
“If we’re in or out [of the postseason] by then, Scherzer will not pitch [Wednesday] under any circumstances,” Leyland said.
If Scherzer doesn’t start on Wednesday, Leyland said, Drew Smyly will get the assignment.
The pitching story in Detroit rigtht now is Max Scherzer trying to succeed Justin Verlander for the Major League strikeout crown. For now, at least, the national race also has Stephen Strasburg in it.
While Scherzer’s seven-inning, eight-strikeout performance pushed him past Verlander for the AL strikeout lead and R.A. Dickey atop the Major League leaderboard, Strasburg was simultaneously dealing in Washington, where he struck out 10 Atlanta Braves over six innings of four-hit, one-run ball for his 15th win. Strasburg (183) passed up Dickey (181) for the NL lead, but fell a few short of Scherzer (186).
Scherzer still leads Strasburg in strikeout rate, but barely. Strasburg bumped his rate to 11.33, just behind Scherzer at 11.34. At this point, you have to stretch it out three decimal points to figure out whether Scherzer has a higher rate than Kerry Wood’s mark in 2003 (11.345 for Wood, 11.336 for Scherzer).
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard that the Nationals have a innings range for Strasburg in his first full season following Tommy John surgery. If general manager Mike Rizzo holds to it, it’s difficult to envision Strasburg racking up enough strikeouts to lead the big leagues at season’s end if everyone else has at least two or three extra starts. For now, though, it’s quite a race. He could still beat out Scherzer for strikeout rate if he finishes with at least 162 innings pitched.
And it’s not just Strasburg. Add Felix Hernandez (179) to Verlander, Dickey, Strasburg, Scherzer, and five pitchers sit within 11 strikeouts of each other for the lead. All but Verlander started Monday or Tuesday, and Verlander will pitch Thursday.
For a 10th consecutive year, the Tigers have avoided going to arbitration. This time, they didn’t get past the day numbers were exchanged.
On the day arbitration-eligible players and teams exchange numbers, the Tigers found a middle ground with their remaining three eligible players and settled. They agreed to one-year deals with right-hander Max Scherzer, outfielder Delmon Young and utilityman Don Kelly.
Kelly will earn $900,000 this coming season. Young and the Tigers settled for $6.75 million, according to CBSSports.com, which also reported Scherzer’s salary $3.75 million plus bonuses.
Kelly’s contract shows the value of versatility on the market. He made his case with two years of solid utility work, playing in 231 games combined over the last two seasons. He batted .245 (63-for-257) last year with eight doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 28 RBIs and a .672 OPS. He also pitched in one game and caught in another during the same week in late June and early July.
Kelly was eligible for arbitration for the first time after 11 years in pro baseball. The 27-year-old Scherzer had to wait a little less after his Major League debut in 2008 and three seasons in a rotation after that, the last two with the Tigers.
In terms of victories, last season was the best for Scherzer, who went 15-9 despite a career-high 4.43 ERA. He struck out 174 batters over 195 innings while allowing 207 hits and 29 home runs. He has 94 starts over the last three years, including a career-high 33 in 2011.
Young was expected to be the most challenging case, partly because he’s a year away from free agency, partly because he had what seemed like two different seasons — an early-season struggle with Minnesota before a late-season surge in Detroit.
The 26-year-old ended up with a .268 average with 12 home runs and 64 RBIs in 124 games before hitting five postseason runs in the Tigers’ run to the American League Championship Series.
The Tigers haven’t faced an arbitration ruling since Dave Dombrowski took over as general manager in 2002.
Justin Verlander threw his side session in the visiting bullpen at Yankee Stadium earlier today, well before batting practice. If you were still hoping, after all that Jim Leyland has said the last couple days about not using him in Game 5, that he would be available in relief tonight, that’s definitive news that he won’t. If he was going to pitch in relief, the Tigers would have held him back from his side session and saved those throws. The fact that he threw today means the Tigers want him ready for Game 1 of the ALCS, if they get there.
Max Scherzer is another story. Leyland told reporters after his press conference that Scherzer told pitching coach Jeff Jones he felt he could throw 100 pitches tonight. Doesn’t mean he will, obviously, but it means he has a fresh arm if they need it.
“If we need to go long, I’m going to go to Scherzer,” Leyland said. “If we get to the late innings, I’m going to [Joaquin] Benoit and [Jose] Valverde. It’s that simple. If I need Coke to get one lefty out in a big situation, I would probably go to him. Other than that, you would probably not see any other pitchers tonight. If you do, we got beat.”
In fact, if Leyland has to go to his bullpen in the middle innings, he might turn to Scherzer.
If the Tigers use any relievers besides those four, and it isn’t extra innings, it’s not a good sign.
We already knew that Justin Verlander would start the Division Series opener next Friday and a potential Game 5. Today, Jim Leyland told Tigers radio play-by-play broadcaster Dan Dickerson that Doug Fister will start Game 2, regardless of opponent. That has been confirmed. That would leave Max Scherzer to start Game 3.
The fourth starter hasn’t yet been revealed. Rick Porcello is set to pitch tomorrow and then stay on turn to pitch the regular-season finale Wednesday night. If that sticks, it would put Porcello in line for five days of rest before Game 4. Brad Penny’s final regular-season start is scheduled for Sunday.
That order will stick, Leyland said, regardless of who the Tigers play in the Division Series.
Jim Leyland isn’t close to determining his postseason roster or rotation, he said Tuesday. But he laid a few hints towards the formation of it.
- Jacob Turner will start Thursday’s series opener against Baltimore. Doug Fister will be pushed up tomorrow night to piggyback Max Scherzer’s start here in Kansas City. Leyland didn’t explain it, but he didn’t have to: Five days from Wednesday is next Monday, and five days from that is Saturday, the date for Game 2 of the AL Division Series. By moving up Fister, Leyland gives himself the option of starting Fister in Game 2 on regular rest.
- Leyland said he’s “95 percent sure we will have an extra player, because we will have 11 pitchers.” The Tigers need just four starters for the postseason, not five. That spot that would normally go to a starter can go to either a reliever or a position player. Leyland all but confirmed it’s a position player.
- Leyland said he doesn’t think Victor Martinez will catch a game again this regular season. Combine this bullet point with the one above, and Omir Santos’ chances of making the postseason roster as a backup catcher look better than they did last week.
- No idea yet whether Carlos Guillen will be ready for the postseason. Guillen said today he’s feeling a little better, but it’s still very sore, and he still can’t so much as hit. He’s believed to be another candidate for that final spot, but Leyland confirmed that if Guillen can’t play in a regular season game the rest of the way, he won’t be on the Division Series roster.
- Al Alburquerque is slated to pitch in relief tonight. If that goes all right, he should be good to go for the playoffs.
- Leyland confirmed what he had already strongly suggested: Justin Verlander will be set up to pitch Game 1 and Game 5 in the Division Series.
How much stock do the Tigers put in moving into a virtual tie atop the AL Central in June? Depends on who you ask.
- Alex Avila: “It’s nice to get there. It definitely means something, because that’s what we’re working towards. We want to win as many games as possible and be in first place [at season's end]. That’s the goal. But at this point, that’s not something we’re focused on. We’re trying to win the game that day.”
- Brennan Boesch: “It feels good. It’s a long way to go obviously, but the Indians were playing such good baseball early on that it just shows that this team, when we put our heads down and play hard, that we can be a force to be reckoned with and it feels good to be there right now.”
- Max Scherzer: “Yeah, it feels good, but we’ve got [about] 100 games left. That’s a lot of games. A lot of things can happen. But you’ve got to love the talent on this team. You’ve got to love what our offense is doing, love what our pitching staff’s doing. We’re in a real good position, and we’re starting to really come on strong. I definitely like our team.”
- Austin Jackson: “It definitely is [a sense of satisfaction], but we’ve still got a long way to go. We understand that. We just need to keep playing good baseball and just take care of what we can take care of.”
Four weeks ago, Max Scherzer stood in the visiting clubhouse in Sarasota and looked like someone in deep, deep — well, concern.
“I’m not going to write anything off,” Scherzer said after giving up more runs (11 earned) and hits (nine) that day than he recorded outs (seven). “I wanted to be dialed in today, and I wasn’t. I look forward to making the adjustments I need to make going into my first start.”
Mechanically, he was off, and it was hurting his velocity. His normal power fastball was coming in around the low 90s rather than mid-90s, leaving not a whole lot of difference between that and his changeup. And it clearly bothered him.
For the spring, Scherzer allowed 20 earned runs on 25 hits over 17 1/3 innings with 10 walks and 12 strikeouts. The thing was, for all the issues with his fastball and his overall command, his slider was biting better than it ever had.
Four weeks later, that’s turning out to be a valuable pitch for him. Now that he has his workhorse pitches in order, he has a better three-pitch package than ever, and he isn’t afraid to mix it.
I remember talking with Scherzer about his pitches at one point in the spring, and his slider seemed like a distant third on the confidence level. That seems to be changing. More and more, it’s looking like an offspeed pitch he can play off his changeup. A look at the stats so far on fangraphs.com shows he’s throwing it slower, and getting more movement out of it.
According to the data from MLB.com Gameday and posted on brooksbaseball.net, he threw more sliders than changeups Sunday against the White Sox. That might not be all that accurate, since the two pitches can look similar at times. But even if it’s a little bit off, it shows he’s throwing it more after getting away from it the last couple years.
Meanwhile, a mechanical adjustment over his first two starts has him back in form with his normal fastball-changeup combination. The result is a difficult mix for hitters to handle.
The next couple starts are going to be interesting for Scherzer. No team had more base hits off Scherzer last year than the Indians, and that was largely without a healthy Grady Sizemore. Travis Hafner and Shin-Soo Choo are a combined 11-for-19 off Scherzer, and they’ll get their first look of the year at him Friday night in Cleveland. After that, it’s a rematch with the Yankees, who used the friendly dimensions of their stadium to homer four times off him April 3. He has a challenge ahead, but at least it looks different than the challenge he faced coming out of spring training.
As you probably already know, Jim Leyland said today that Phil Coke would be the extra starter moved to the bullpen for the start of the season until the Tigers need a fifth starter over the weekend of the first home series. Brad Penny will be the fourth starter.
What you might not remember, though, is how Penny’s starts now fit with the rest of the Tigers starters. So here’s a chart for the Tigers rotation:
March 31 (Opening Day) at Yankees: Justin Verlander
April 2 at Yankees: Brad Penny
April 3 at Yankees: Max Scherzer
April 4 at Orioles (O’s home opener): Rick Porcello
April 6 at Orioles: Justin Verlander
April 7 at Orioles: Brad Penny
April 8 vs. Royals (home opener): Max Scherzer
April 9 vs. Royals: Phil Coke
April 10 vs. Royals: Rick Porcello (presumably)
Checked around a little bit Monday morning, and the decision to swap Brad Penny with Max Scherzer in the pitching order Sunday was nothing serious. Turns out Penny takes a little more time to warm up in the bullpen than Scherzer — don’t know if it’s age, tempo or just deliberate things he needs to do when he warms. In any case, it made more sense to let Penny get the extra time to warm up before than the game than Scherzer, who can warm up relatively quickly for a starting pitcher.
It won’t be a question later in camp, when manager Jim Leyland gets his rotation order lined up for the season and decides who starts which day opening week.