Scherzer: 'I'm expecting I should be able to make the start'
By Saturday afternoon, it will be changed to something else.
Whose name will be penciled in there? TBA.
The Tigers do know that, after a rainout Friday that created a day-night doubleheader (1:05 and 7:05 p.m.) on Sunday, one of the starters will be rookie Drew Smyly. The other is still up in the air.
After a good session playing catch in the outfield Friday afternoon, starter Max Scherzer — whose turn it is in the rotation it originally was for Sunday — felt pretty confident it would be his name would be written in for the other game.
“I’m expecting I should be able to make the start,” said Scherzer, who lasted just two innings into his last start on Tuesday, before being removed with weakness in his throwing shoulder. “I was able to play catch and felt no pain, felt good, ball was jumping out of my hand. The big thing will be tomorrow (Saturday), I’ve got to really air it out, be able to let it fly and be able to throw all my pitches to be sure that I can start. If I am able to do that tomorrow, I don’t see there’s a reason why I wouldn’t be able to start on Sunday.”
Manager Jim Leyland went into Friday night still hedging his bets, planning to keep Smyly in his back pocket, just in case. Instead, he shifted Smyly into one of the Sunday starts, and kept Saturday’s starter, Doug Fister, in his spot. Friday’s scheduled starter, Rick Porcello, will either pitch one of Sunday’s games, if Scherzer can’t go, or be skipped until what would have been his next scheduled start, on Wednesday.
“Yeah. I don’t know. (Scherzer) had a pretty good day, but I won’t know anything until tomorrow (Saturday). That’s to answer your question. I really won’t know anything until tomorrow. ... Tomorrow will be the big day. He’ll throw, like the slider and stuff tomorrow. We’ll either shut him down, or have to make a decision,” Leyland said before Friday’s game was rained out.
The wild card is still whether or not Scherzer is going to be able to go.
Arguably the hottest starter in the American League in the second half (7-1 in eight starts since Aug. 10, with a 1.41 ERA, and a .197 batting average allowed), Scherzer left his last start after throwing just 44 pitches, many of which were far below his normal velocity.
The diagnosis ruled out any serious injuries to the hard structure of Scherzer’s throwing shoulder, but showed inflammation in the front of the deltoid muscle, which kept him from comfortably rotating his arm forward — a necessity, obviously, in his delivery.
It’s responded well to treatment and medication, allowing Scherzer to try playing catch on Friday, tossing easily from 75 feet. He’ll have to do the same on Saturday before he’s cleared to go.
“Once I can air it out. Once I can get out to 90 feet and throw the ball as hard as I can, when I can do that, that’s when I know I’m right. I don’t see any reason why I won’t be able to do that tomorrow, but I’ve got to be able to do that,” Scherzer said. “I gotta be able to air out my fastball. I gotta be able to do that tomorrow when I’m playing catch. So as soon as I’m able to do that, that’ll be the biggest tell-tale sign whether or not I’ll be able to make the start. I’m guessing I’ll be able to.”
It’s not something that Leyland is willing to push, if it’s still a question mark.
He’s that same way with any pitcher who might be pushing the envelope on their endurance, or any player who’s been injured, like Alex Avila had been.
He’s not going to jeopardize a player’s health for a short-term gain, even in a must-win situation like the Tigers are in.
“No, you don’t ... I would never ... You would never do that. Like today, for instance, Max feels real good, you know? And the manager’s always the guy that (thinks), Max might feel good, but in the back of my mind, am I taking a chance with this guy for his future, for the Tigers’ future. You know what I mean? It’s always a tough call. It’s not easy. People think you just make a decision, is he going to pitch or not? It’s not that easy,” Leyland said.
“Because I’m not smart enough to know, does this thing lead to something else? Is there some weakness here that causes something else to happen? I don’t want any part of that. So I’ll have to be totally convinced by our medical team, which is excellent, but that clearance would have to come from them. I’m not going to make that call. I’m not going to do it.”
And the medical staff doesn’t sugarcoat things, or give the manager the answer he wants to hear, rather than the truth.
“Oh, they don’t do that. There’s too much red tape involved with that stuff anymore. There’s not a medical guy that’s going to put himself on the line, if there’s any question at all. They’re very good about ... We always shade to the precautionary side. If Kevin says ‘This guy can’t play,’ he can’t play. I trust him totally. Because I don’t know anything about that. That’s not my expertise,” Leyland said.
“You’re at the mercy of whatever they say.”
Much like the Tigers were at the mercy of the weather on Friday.
NOTE: Both of Sunday's games will be televised on Fox Sports Detroit. Those fans with tickets to Friday's game can use them for the 7:05 game on Sunday.