Max Scherzer‘s remarkable 2013 campaign is one of the biggest reasons why the Detroit Tigers won the division last year. After winning the AL Cy Young award to cap what was easily the best season of his career, Scherzer hopes to begin 2014 with a win against the Kansas City Royals today.
His career ERA against the Royals is 3.44, but that comes from seasons of facing off against mediocre KC offenses. Despite that offensive dud to start the season, KC’s offense can be expected to improve in 2014. Even without possible output from new Royals, this batting order has enough past success against last year’s Cy Young winner to enter today’s game with confidence.
Clutch hitting will be key in Game 2 of this series in Detroit, and perhaps the best candidates for those clutch hits come at KC’s No. 5 and No. 6 spots in the order. Both the impressively versatile Alex Gordon and the incredibly valuable Salvador Perez fare very well against Scherzer; Gordo posted a .393 average and .514 on-base percentage in 28 at-bats, and Perez hit .389 off Scherzer with a .778 slugging percentage. Both have homered twice off the Tigers starter so far in their careers.
The Royals should be able to keep this game close by scoring at least four runs. Their bullpen won’t often blow up on them like they did Monday, and Royals starter Jason Vargas has only given up more than five runs in a start one time since September of 2012. In his last three seasons, Vargas posted a 3.15 ERA against the Tigers and averaged less than six hits per start.