Max Scherzer pitches for the Tigers and is also known for having two different colored eyes. Some Tigers fans like to joke that when Scherzer is pitching poorly he is pitching from the brown eye and when he is pitching well he is pitching from the blue eye. I’m not sure if that’s a real medical condition, but if it is, Max Scherzer was all blue eye on Tuesday.
He threw 8 innings, allowed 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, and 7 K and retired the last 22 batters he faced in order. It wasn’t his highest strikeout performance, but it was superb in every way. Here are three reasons he toasted the Indians.
1. Everything Was Down
Look at this. Scherzer threw just four of his 118 pitches in the top 1/4 of the zone and none of them were put in play. He didn’t hang breaking balls and he didn’t lose his delivery and start missing his spots.
2. His Fast Ball Was On
Not only did Scherzer have all four pitches working, but his fastball was particularly potent. The graph above shows the separation between his pitches by velocity and horizontal movement, but it’s also of note that his average fastball last night was an entire MPH faster (94.4 according to Pitch F/X, 95.8 according to BrooksBaseball) than his best average fastball so far this season (93.4 and 94.2 respectively). [Graph reflects Pitch F/X)
3. He Verlandered Them
Not only was Scherzer commanding his pitches and throwing harder, but he also got better as the game went on. His last pitch was his hardest fastball of the night, topping out at 98 MPH. You can see that he threw harder on average as the game went on as well with some of his best fastballs coming at the end of the game.
So while you didn’t need me to show you that Max Scherzer was great against the Indians on Tuesday, now you know why. He commanded his pitches well, his fastball was better than in previous starts, and he got better as the game went on. Scherzer is 4th in baseball in pitcher WAR with 2.3 so far and had his best start of the year last night.
[…] The Tigers jumped out to a first inning 2-0 lead and then Justin Verlander (4/5-4, 59 IP, 3.66 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 2.1 WAR) gave a run back in each of the first two innings with some help from terrible “non-error” defense from Torii Hunter. But then the Tigers offense came alive with 4 in the 3rd and Verlander looked like he figured something out and shut the Indians down in the 3rd and 4th. In the 5th, the Tigers added 3 more runs and Verlander came out for the bottom half and gave up three more runs. And then the rain came and the game was halted before the inning could be completed. After a 62 minute delay, Verlander came back out to finish the 5th and qualify for a win. Then relief ace Smyly gave up 2 in the 6th to make it 9-7. After a scoreless 7th, the rain came again and we waited another 50 minutes for the 8th inning in which Miguel Cabrera hit a ball to the warning track that Michael Bourn knocked over the fence for a two run homer. The game was exactly as head-shakingly chaotic as the first several sentences of this post and I wrote it that way so you could feel the game in my words. It was one of those baseball games that just wore you down even though your team led the entire way. The win improves the Tigers to 25-19 and gives them a short, two game sweep of the Indians and sends them home to face the Twins behind Rick Porcello (2-2, 38 IP, 5.92 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 0.4 WAR) whom I argue is on his way to a breakout year. It’s unclear for certain what caused Verlander’s odd start, but there are some rumblings of sign stealing, which I can’t really dispute give that nothing else seems to be wrong with him. We’ll have to wait and see where things go from here, but the Tigers got the win and that’s good enough for me on this night. Also, if you missed it, here’s my piece from earlier on Max Scherzer’s dominate performance from Tuesday. […]
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