This afternoon, reigning AL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer took the ball for the Detroit Tigers for just the fifth time of the 2014 season. He was given the task of shutting down the Chicago White Sox‘ formidable offense, and it would suffice to say that he did his job.
In today’s 7-4 victory over the White Sox, Scherzer went six innings and only gave up two earned runs, one of which came on a big solo home run to Adam Dunn in the second inning. Scherzer gave up a total of seven hits, walked one and struck out 10. Scherzer now has 44 strikeouts in just 33 innings pitched this season. It is important to note that he has had more strikeouts than innings pitched in each of the past two seasons.
Scherzer did, however, run into a bit of trouble today, and he had a rather high pitch count as he threw 110 pitches over his aforementioned six innings. That is not unusual for Scherzer, though, as he is a strikeout pitcher, and his pitching style is likely part of the reason why he has never been able to throw a complete game in his career.
Scherzer is now 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA, and although he is capable of pitching better than he did today, he is still having a very strong month of April. Scherzer’s solid first month appears to be a good indication that he is on the cusp of putting together another Cy Young-caliber season in 2014. Scherzer became one of MLB‘s elite pitchers last year, and he would undoubtedly like to stay in that category rather than regress.
Scherzer actually turned quite a few heads in Spring Training when he turned down the Tigers’ lucrative contract offer which was reportedly worth $144 million over six years. Many felt that it was more than a fair deal when considering the fact that Scherzer has only had one truly exceptional season, which was obviously his Cy Young campaign of last year. Scherzer certainly had “good years” prior to 2013, and one might even call his 2012 season “great,” but many would be shy to describe his pre-2013 work as “outstanding.”
Scherzer has always been a good power pitcher, but he was never mentioned in the Cy Young conversation year after year as his teammate Justin Verlander was from 2009-12. Therefore, it is natural for one to wonder whether or not Scherzer should get “Verlander Money.”
However, Scherzer certainly appears to be on a mission to prove that 2013 was not a fluke, and that he is indeed capable of posting such numbers once again. Only time will tell whether or not Scherzer is able to garner a larger contract than the one the Tigers offered him this past March, but if his April numbers are a sign of things to come, who knows what someone might be willing to pay him.