If you read this headline and thought it was a joke then go ahead and get a laugh out because I’m dead serious. The Detroit Tigers continue to hold to a thin lead in the American League Central division even as their long time ace Justin Verlander continues to struggle in very non-Verlander ways. During that time he has been picked up by the great performance of Tigers starter Max Scherzer. The difference between these two pitchers isn’t what you might think. Really the biggest gap from Verlander to Scherzer is the money they will make this year. Most every other stat goes in Scherzer’s favor. Check them if you don’t believe me.
This is great news for the Tigers if you assume like I do that Verlander will get himself straightened out by the time July gets here. Now they have yet another great pitcher that is displaying the ability to dominate the opposition. Look at the two of them side by side this year. Verlander is 8 – 5 with a 3.72 ERA thanks to his recent struggles. He had 17 wins last year with a 2.64 ERA and in 2011 carried 24 wins with a 2.40 ERA.
Scherzer was just getting into his stride in the last couple of seasons. While Verlander is at the beginning of a huge contract that will take him through age 37, Scherzer is second year arbitration eligible and won’t be a free agent until 2015. Paychecks between those two only differ by about $13 million or so. Scherzer meanwhile is 10-0 going into Saturday’s start with a 3.08 ERA. He has been dominant in June giving up only 4 runs while Verlander has given up 11. I guess that is a pretty good problem to have for the Tigers.
Well, it’s a good problem unless Scherzer continues to develop this way. He had 15 wins with a 4.43 ERA in 2011 and improved to 16 wins and a 3.74 ERA last year. So he is definitely going in the right direction. This year he is on pace to have as good of a season as Verlander had in 2011. If he keeps going like that it will be difficult to give him the big payday he will deserve and keep Verlander. It might not be great business to give over 40 to 50 million bucks to two pitchers after all. Ah well, I’m sure they’ll work all that out when the time comes unless they happen to want to try to edit Verlander’s status by then because he doesn’t right the ship and Scherzer winds up the clear ace of the staff over that time. I’m just saying, it could be an interesting story to watch.