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Monday, September 16, 2013

Scherzer passes two milestones in Sunday's game, both a testament to his consistency

DETROIT — Sunday was a milestone day for Max Scherzer, even if it had nothing to do with whether or not he got a win in the game.

No, Scherzer did not pass the 20-win threshold, and neither became the sixth Tigers pitcher in 40 years to do so, nor the first in the big leagues this season.

His no-decision in the Tigers’ 3-2 win certain was not indicative of how well he’d pitched, either, as he struck out 12 in seven innings.

But the Tigers’ right-hander did pass a couple of other benchmarks:

• With seven innings pitched, he passed the 200-inning plateau for the first time in his career (sitting at 201 1/3).

He’s been oh-so-close before, finishing within one start’s worth of innings twice (195 2/3 and 195) in his first two seasons in Detroit. That mark was something that meant a great deal to him.

“Yeah, that’s a big milestone for me. I’ve always come up short. I’ve been at 195, got rained out, wasn’t able to get it,” Scherzer said. “To get to 200 innings is an important plateau, because that’s just a sign of a starter pitching deep into a game, and giving you a chance to win. That’s not something that I’ve necessarily accomplished with the 200 innings, but obviously this year, I’ve pitched well, and I’ve pitched deep into games, and that’s a result of that 200 innings.”

• The seven innings also tipped him over the 1,000 career inning plateau in his sixth big-league season, putting him at a total of 1,006. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only pitcher to amass as many or more wins (71) and strikeouts (1,045) as Scherzer in his first 1,000 innings was Pedro Martinez (71 and 1,075).

Those are not likely to be the last milestones Scherzer will pass in this career year of his.

He’s five strikeouts (at 227 now) away from setting a new single-season career high, having already gone over the 200 mark for a second straight season.

He currently leads the big leagues in win percentage (.864) and the American League in WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched, 0.959), both of which are far and away career bests, as is his current ERA of 2.95, which is fifth-best in the AL.

If the season ended today (and neither he nor anybody else wants it to), he’d have new career lows in hits-allowed-per-9-innings (6.4), homers-per-9 (0.8), walks-per-9 (2.2) and a career-best strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.63.

But no, this is not where Scherzer, or any other Tigers player for that matter, wants the season to end.

Despite the steady workload, he feels everything is where it should be to finish out the regular season, and presumably pitch on into October.

“I feel great. Everything feels great,” he said. “That (watching the workload) is just something throughout the year. When I have extended my pitch count, I know I need to take care of my arm more. That’s just something, knowing my arm, when to push it, when not to.”

And how is it now?

“I’m pitching well. For me, I’m pitching with four pitches, and I’m pitching consistently,” he said. “I’ve had a few games where I haven’t pitched quite as well, but I think I’ve identified some things. I’m where I need to be. I’m strong in September, and hopefully we can get to the playoffs, and I can pitch strong in October.”


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