Max Scherzer is pitching like a man on a mission this season. Roughly one week before the start of the 2014 campaign, he made headlines by rejecting the Detroit Tigers‘ six-year, $144 million contract extension. Many believed that it was more than a fair offer given Scherzer’s short track record as one of MLB‘s premier pitchers.
It is common knowledge that Scherzer’s breakout year came in 2013, as he went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and brought home the AL Cy Young award. He was also very solid in 2012 when he went 16-7 with a 3.74 ERA and led the league with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Before that, though, he had an ERA of 4.43 in 2011 and he even found himself pitching in the minors for a spell back in 2010. He has not had the unbelievable four-year stretch that his teammate Justin Verlander went on from 2009-12.
However, Scherzer certainly does appear to be on the verge of putting together back-to-back outstanding seasons based on the way that he has pitched in the first month of 2014. He knew, coming into the season, that he would be pitching under a microscope, and that has not seemed to phase him thus far.
This afternoon, Scherzer added one more great start to cap off his tremendous April. Six days after defeating the Chicago White Sox for his second win of the season, he took on the Sox once again and beat them for the second time in less than a week.
In today’s 5-1 victory, Scherzer threw six scoreless innings, allowed just four hits, three walks and recorded seven more strikeouts. He is now 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA to start the season. He has 51 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched as well.
Despite winning the Cy Young last season, many still consider Scherzer to be a notch below pitchers such as Verlander, Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez. However, it now seems that in Scherzer’s mind, he believes that he is capable of pitching as well as anyone. In this game, attitude and confidence can be everything.
Many believed that Scherzer made a very big gamble by turning down the Tigers’ aforementioned offer this spring, but he is certainly proving that he may indeed be able to garner an even bigger contract after the season. We will have to wait until next winter, though, to see who will offer it to him.
It may no longer make sense for the Tigers to make another aggressive run at signing Scherzer, given Miguel Cabrera‘s new contract on top of Verlander’s contract. If the Tigers are able to retain Scherzer, they would likely have three of the game’s highest paid players and they would all be 30 or older.
All of this being said, however, Scherzer is a team player and his No. 1 goal right now is likely to win a World Series with the Tigers, which appears to be everyone’s focus at the moment. Scherzer is certainly continuing to prove to his doubters and critics, though, that 2013 was not a fluke.