Results tagged ‘ Max Scherzer ’

Reactions to Tigers’ share of division lead

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.”

So much for spring training Scherzer

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.

Tigers rotation for opening week

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)

Why Penny started over Scherzer Sunday

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.

Bonderman to be skipped this weekend

Had a question pop up yesterday asking whether the Tigers would start Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander this weekend in Boston. Turns out, the answer is both.

The Tigers have released their rotation for this weekend’s series against the Red Sox, and Jeremy Bonderman will have his spot skipped. The rotation order would’ve brought up his spot Friday or Saturday, depending on whether Jim Leyland wanted to start him or Armando Galarraga first.

Instead, Galarraga will pitch Friday night at Fenway, then Scherzer, then Verlander. It also means Verlander will not pitch next week against the White Sox.

Manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday afternoon that he wanted to keep Scherzer and Verlander on their regular four days of rest. Verlander talked last month about how he has trouble pitching on extra rest. Scherzer said it doesn’t really make a difference with him.
Leyland added that Bonderman will start on three days’ rest after his next outing. Next Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the White Sox left the Tigers with a choice — calling up a spot starter or going with a bullpen start. This gives them Plan C.
“What we wanted to avoid,” Leyland said, “is sending somebody down and bringing somebody up.”
Bonderman is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA in five career starts at Fenway, but he has only pitched there twice since 2004 — a start each in 2006 and ’08. Of greater concern for the Tigers would be Bonderman’s recent struggles: He’s 2-2 with a 7.29 ERA over his last six starts, allowing 46 hits over 33 1/3 innings and giving up seven home runs.

Bonderman’s road numbers have been bad for most of the year, but all four of his July starts came at home, and he went 1-1 with a 7.77 ERA in those.

It isn’t an easy decision either way. One philosophy would suggest saving one of your front-line starters for the White Sox, especially in a series that starts with a day-night doubleheader. A Verlander start Tuesday sets you up to conserve your bullpen for the nightcap. On the other hand, the way the Tigers have struggled lately and struggled on the road all year, there’s a case to be made to give the team any chance it can to win this weekend.

Sizemore, Scherzer to Toledo; Worth coming up

The first Saturday night fireworks of the season at Comerica Park weren’t just on the field. After the Tigers’ comeback win over the Red Sox, they made three key changes to their roster, optioning starting second baseman Scott Sizemore and key starting pitcher Max Scherzer to Triple-A Toledo and anointing Carlos Guillen as the new starter at second when he returns from the disabled list.

Armando Galarraga, who was already being recalled from Toledo to start Sunday’s series finale against Boston, will stay in the rotation. To replace Sizemore, the Tigers purchased the contract of infielder Danny Worth, who could make his Major League debut as soon as Sunday at second base.

Manager Jim Leyland said he’ll fill second base with some combination of Ramon Santiago, Worth and utilityman Don Kelly until Guillen is ready. Guillen, currently on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring, has been taking ground balls the past couple days and is expected to begin a rehab assignment sometime next week after the Tigers’ current homestand ends Tuesday.

The moves and announcements came just before midnight after Detroit’s 12-inning victory, and they came in a flurry.

The Tigers tabbed Scherzer to fill the void in the middle of their rotation immediately upon acquiring the gifted 25-year-old from Arizona in the Edwin Jackson trade last December. After four encouraging April starts, however, he fell into a deep four-start struggle that saw him battle his mechanics moreso than hitters.

Scherzer gave up 27 runs on 33 hits over 18 innings in his last four starts, the last three of them losses. The capper came Friday night, when he surrendered three home runs — including a 450-foot drive from David Ortiz — tagged him with six runs on six hits over five innings.

Scherzer has given up nine home runs this season, tying him for second in the American League entering Saturday.

Scherzer would’ve been on track to start next Thursday at Oakland. Instead, the Tigers will likely slot Dontrelle Willis into that outing, pitching him in his hometown. Galarraga can then start Friday against the Dodgers on his regular turn after starting Sunday.

Galarraga has boasted impressive numbers in Toledo, owning a 4-2 record with a 3.92 ERA. With a strike-to-ball ratio of better than 2-to-1, his command seems to have improved since last season with the Tigers, where he posted a 6-10 record in 25 starts before being relegated to bullpen duties.

The 25-year-old Sizemore has struggled for the vast majority of this season to date, but has fallen on particularly tough times lately. His two strikeouts against Red Sox lefty Jon Lester Saturday night extended his current slump to 0-for-14 and dropped his average to .206. He hit one home run and added eight RBIs, part of the struggles at the bottom of the Tigers order.

The telling sign came Saturday night, when manager Jim Leyland used Ramon Santiago to pinch-hit for Sizemore in the eighth inning of a tie game with Red Sox left-hander Hideki Okajima and the potential go-ahead run on third with one out. Santiago lined out to third and stayed in the game at second base before drawing the walkoff walk to drive in the winning run in the 12th.

The 24-year-old Worth was once among the Tigers’ shortstop prospects, having been drafted in the second round of the 2007 Draft out of Pepperdine. He largely struggled as a hitter in his first three seasons, but has proven valuable around the infield this year at Toledo, where he entered Saturday batting .274 with five doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs.  He has played at shortstop, second and third.

Scherzer impresses in Tigers debut

That regular-season intensity of Max Scherzer was on display in a regular-season game Wednesday, and Scherzer showed how he can channel it to his advantage.

Scherzer was visibly fired up when he got the call on the inside corner for strike three on David DeJesus to end the fifth inning with the bases loaded. His no-hit bid was gone, but he kept the game scoreless. Even more encouraging for him, he did it by pounding a fastball inside, a big point of his during Spring Training. He had fallen behind on a 2-0 count to DeJesus to put himself in serious trouble, but worked out of it.

“It wasn’t the strikeout; I really worked hard on locating the fastball in,” Scherzer said. “And on that pitch, when I needed it most, I located my fastball in. That’s where I can walk away from this outing knowing that in that situation I did something right.

Scherzer felt like Wednesday was a good starting point for him. His slider was off and on, but his changeup was generally solid. His fastball, obviously, was encouraging, and he changed speeds on it according to the situation, ranging from the low to mid-90s. He didn’t rack up a lot of strikeouts, just three, but walked just two while induced some quicker outs. He would’ve liked to have gotten into the seventh inning, but with 91 pitches through six — an average of just about 15 pitches per inning — he had to be encouraged. His manager sure was.

“Scherzer was terrific,” Jim Leyland said. “Used all his pitches, changed the speeds on his fastball, good changeup, slider.”

Granderson/Jackson trade is official

It's a done deal: the Tigers have sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees and Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke. The three GMs are scheduled to have a news conference at 4:30 pm. Look for that on MLB.com if you're not by a TV.

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