Just Friday, Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs walked away from baseball following one last appearance on the mound at Wrigley Field, striking out the last batter he ever faced. Wood, of course, is best known for his 20 strikeout game in 1998, easily the highlight of a career that many believed failed to reach its potential.
With his 15 strikeouts this afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer added his name to the great all-time single-game performances, along with Wood, and Roger Clemens who struck out 20 in a game on two separate occasions, once in 1986 and again in 1996.
Scherzer was dominant throughout the afternoon, showing complete control over a solid fastball and very good breaking stuff. If there’s been a knock on the Chesterfield, Missouri native, it has been his lack of consistent control and poise. Make no mistake, though, when Scherzer is on his game his stuff is as good as it comes.
Early in the 2012 campaign, the hard-throwing righty has a rough 6.26 ERA, posting 48 strikeouts versus 18 walks and an astronomical WHIP of 1.78. Maybe today’s performance is a sign Scherzer is turning the corner, and can bring these numbers down out of the stratosphere, and to where Jim Leyland and the Tigers staff expect they should be.
Sometimes all it takes is one dominating performance for a pitcher to get out of their own head and find a center to work from in their remaining appearances, whether they are a starter, reliever, or closer. When a pitcher has a rough series of eight starts like Scherzer had in the first fourth of the season, the easy thing to do is to start over-thinking every pitch and aim instead of just rare back and throw.
It’s obvious someone told Scherzer just this today, to just throw.
If it is a turning point for the 27-year old with a ton of potential, the Tigers will be happy to see it.