Each Monday, good or bad, we’ll look back at the biggest theme of the week that was for the Detroit Tigers.
In yet another up and down week for the Tigers full of two sweeps, there was one usual constant. Max Scherzer was able to be counted on when taking the mound, and as a result, he has now inserted himself into the Cy Young discussion.
Scherzer hasn’t lost in five starts, and during that time, he’s only given up four total earned runs. He’s piling up the strikeouts, dropping the ERA, walking nobody and barely allowing any base runners at all. He’s beaten the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox, each of which feature lineups that are nothing to scoff at. The statistics have led him back near the top of the league.
In doing so, Scherzer joins Felix Hernandez, Jared Weaver, David Price and Chris Sale in the discussion for the American League Cy Young award. Though he’s had a late start, often times, this award is about how you finish. By winning down the stretch with a confident arm and proving immense value to his team, Scherzer has given himself a fantastic shot to win.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Scherzer’s evolution in 2012 has been his ability to become a confident pitcher. Lately, he takes the mound with an edge, as if to say “I’m not going to be beaten.” It’s a far cry from the pitcher who often times gave up four runs in the first two innings. The Tigers needed a complement to Justin Verlander in this category, and suddenly, they’ve found one.
Does Scherzer have enough to overcome Price, Sale and perhaps even Verlander in the discussion? It will be a tough order. However, there’s been nobody hotter for the past two months. How each team finishes in the standings will do a lot to tell that story. If the Tigers overcome the White Sox and win the Central Division, beating Sale along the way, either Verlander or Scherzer will suddenly look more attractive to voters.
If Hernandez can win the Cy Young in 2010 with a 13-12 record, Scherzer can triumph given he’s already eclipsed that mark. If Bartolo Colon can win with a 3.48 ERA in 2005, Scherzer can triumph given his is rapidly declining. Forget Cliff Lee’s 170 strikeouts in 2008; Scherzer is already at 209, dueling with Verlander for the the league lead. The numbers are there, now, everything else must fall into place.
While Delmon Young’s heroics at the plate against Chicago were vitally important, Scherzer made the biggest statement by continuing to step up when his name was called on the mound.
Lately, I’ve even been proud to share his excellent first name.
In spite of Scherzer taking it “to the Max” recently, not everything was sunshine and daises this week. The Tigers endured an ugly sweep in Kansas City, and fans were feeling the frustration prior to the weekend. Amongst all the laughs and angst, Mark Gibson made an excellent point about the Central Division race in our Facebook feedback of the week.
Mark Gibson: Sad that the Tigers can’t score a run against KC. Don’t get me wrong, KC has been playing well lately and could play spoiler for the AL Central.
Mark is right. The Tigers showed plenty in sweeping the White Sox this weekend, but to win the Central Division in the end, they’ll likely need to solve the Kansas City Royals’ puzzle. The Tigers have seven games left with Kansas City, and going 0-7 in those contests isn’t an option. They’ll have to elevate their play against a young team with nothing to lose if they want to remain in play for a Central Division title.