It’s possible for a team to have two players who might be regarded as the best pitchers in Baseball. Justin Verlander is an obvious choice for the Detroit Tigers, but the way Max Scherzer has been playing lately, he deserved to be included in that discussion.
The Detroit Tigers had no problem dispatching of the Baltimore Orioles as the two teams opened their series in Comerica Park with a 5-1 Tigers win, thanks to Scerzer reaching 10-0 this season by striking out 10 players, and the bats of Austin Jackson (3-of-4, 1 RBI) and Miguel Cabrera (3-of-4, one home run) as Detroit improved to 39-29 and five games above the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central.
Since last June 17, Max Scherzer has gone 21-3 with a 2.78 ERA and 259 K’s. His fastball has been untouchable, leading all American League starters with 53 Ks, while the batting average against him, his average velocity and the misses he causes are all ranked in the top 3 among AL pitchers on their fastballs. He had 10 pitches hitting 96mphs in the win, after averaging 4.1 per start before the win over the Orioles.
He’s at the top of his game pretty much. Stuff has never been an issue with Jake, it’s just command.
He threw five fastballs at 96+ MPH to Chris Davis with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth inning, eventually striking him out swinging on a 97-MPH fastball. He now has five games with 10 or more strikeouts this season, he first Tigers pitcher in the Live Ball era (since 1920) to have 5 games with 10+ K within the team’s first 68 games.
He was just coming after me. Of course, when you’re throwing 96, 97, 98, that helps.
But there was more than just scorching fastball from Scherzer, who stepped down after six innings (getting hit 7 times), allowing one home run to Davis, his 24th of the season. There was Drew Smyly who played three innings, picking up the save and not allowing a single hit during his quick work on the mound. And there was Cabrera, following his triple crown season with something that’s just as good.
He hit his 19th home run off of Jake Arrieta in the first, but there’s more than just the power to his impressive season (.638 slugging). All of his hits came against breaking balls on the day, and his average against such pitches is .312 this season with a slugging percentage of .591, including 7 home runs. He is in some kind of home run drought (only 2 over the last 10 games), but this kind of performance is more than likely to restart the fuel in his engines.
I watched the replay on video a couple times and by his swing, you think it might be a fly ball to right field. But with the strength he has in his swing, a swing like that on that ball ends up in the seats.
Things might not be so different in game 2 between the teams, as Zach Britton, who has pitched in only one game this season, is on the mound for Baltimore, while Verlander (7-4, 3.41 ERA) is starting for Detroit.