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Max Scherzer

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Maxwell M. Scherzer

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[edit] Biographical Information

Pitcher Max Scherzer was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 43rd round of the 2003 amateur draft, but opted for college. He was then selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Joe Robinson and made his pro debut in 2007 with the Visalia Oaks, where he went 2-0 with an 0.53 ERA before being promoted to the Mobile BayBears. With Mobile, he was 4-4 with a 3.91 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 14 starts. He began 2008 with the Tucson Sidewinders and notched a 1.17 ERA in 4 starts and struck out 38 batters in 23 innings. He was then called up by the Diamondbacks in late April and made his debut on April 29th against the Houston Astros, coming out of the bullpen to pitch 4 1/3 innings of perfect ball and strike out 7. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Scherzer's debut was the longest debut outing in "modern major-league history" by a pitcher who retired every batter he faced (13 batters). In the previous 50 years, Jimmy Key had the most with 10 batters. He was 0-4 but with a good 3.05 ERA in 16 games for the Diamondbacks as a rookie. In 2009, he spent the entire season in the starting rotation with correct results, going 9-11, 4.12 in 30 starts, and striking 174 batters in 170 1/3 innings.

Before the 2010 season, Max was sent to the Detroit Tigers in a three-team trade that also involved the New York Yankees and such current and future stars as Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson and Austin Jackson. He made 31 starts for the Tigers that season, improving to 12-11, 3.50, with 184 strikeouts. He had a better record with a worse ERA in 2011, finishing at 15-9 in spite of seeing his ERA increase to 4.43 in 33 starts. He was second on the team in wins behind ace Justin Verlander, although late-season acquisition Doug Fister, who pitched brilliantly after joining the team, was the number 2 starter when the postseason began after the Tigers claimed the first AL Central title in team history. He won Game 2 of the ALDS by shutting out the Yankees on two hits over 6 innings, his start having been moved forward when Game 1 was suspended by rain after only one inning, forcing both teams to use their number 2 starters when the game was resumed the next day. He pitched in relief in the deciding Game 5, relieving Fister at the start of the 6th inning with a 3-1 lead, and recording a scoreless inning, before giving up a run on a pair of hits on the 7th and turning the ball over to Joaquin Benoit. He started a pair of games in the ALCS against the Texas Rangers, but the Tigers lost both times, with Scherzer being charged with the loss in Game 6 after giving up 6 runs in 2 1/3 innings.

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On May 20, 2012, Max set a personal record by striking out 15 members of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 7 innings in a 4 - 3 win. He was one shy of the Tigers team record, set by Mickey Lolich in 1969. He continued to rack up big strikeout numbers on the year, and on August 21st took over the major league lead for Ks, striking out 8 in a winning start over the Toronto Blue Jays to reach 186, 6 more than his teammate Verlander for the American League lead, and five more than R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets for the major league lead. He also had the highest K/9 rate by a starter in 10 years at that point of the season. On September 18th, however, he had to leave a start against the Oakland A's after only two innings, complaining of shoulder fatigue. He recovered in time for the postseason, ending the year at 16-7, 3.74, with 231 strikeouts in 187 2/3 innings. He finished second to Verlander for the AL strikeout crown, but had a better K/9 ratio than his teammate. He started Game 4 of the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics, getting a no-decision as he gave up an unearned run in 5 1/3 innings, striking out 8 while walking one. He then started and won Game 4 of the ALCS on October 18th, giving up one run in 5 2/3 innings while striking out 10 and giving up only 2 hits and 2 walks to the New York Yankees. The win completed a four-game sweep of the Yankees and sent Detroit to the 2012 World Series. He started Game 4 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants on October 28th, and allowed 3 runs in 6 1/3 innings before departing with the score tied, 3-3. The Tigers went on to lose, 4-3, in the 10th, completing a four-game sweep at the hands of the Giants.

Scherzer was outstanding at the start of the 2013 season. He was 3-0, 4.02 in April, with 46 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings, then won his first four decisions in May to stand at 7-0, 3.42 after 10 starts on May 26th. While his strikeout rate had gone down slightly in May, he was still at well over one per inning, with 81 in 68 1/3 innings, against only 18 walks. He was tied with Felix Hernandez for second in the AL in strikeouts, 10 behind Yu Darvish. On June 17th, he pitched 6 innings of one-hit ball to defeat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1, running his record on the year to 10-0. He was the first major league starter to start off with 10 wins since Roger Clemens had done so for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997, recording 11 straight to start the season, and the second in Tigers history after George Mullin had started the 1909 season with 11 straight wins (one in relief). He struck out 10 batters in that game, giving him at least 6 K's in each of his first 14 starts, something not seen in the American League since Pedro Martinez in 2001. He matched his two illustrious predecessors on June 22nd, when he defeated the Boston Red Sox, 10-3, to move to 11-0. He made it 12 straight with a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on June 28th and 13 when he beat the Blue Jays in his next start, on July 3rd. He once again was chasing Clemens, as Roger had also been the last to start a season with that many wins, when he began 1986 14-0. It was absolutely no surprise that he was named to the All-Star team for the first time, and indeed got to start the game for the AL, pitching a perfect 1st inning. He suffered his first loss in his last start before the Midsummer Classic, bowing to the Texas Rangers, 7-1, on July 13th. On July 27th, he became the first major league pitcher to reach 15 wins with a 10-0 blanking of the Philadelphia Phillies. When he defeated the Cleveland Indians, 10-3, on August 8th - the Tigers' 12th straight win - he became the first pitcher to start a season 17-1 since, once again, Roger Clemens, who had done so in 2001. By going to 18-1 with a 6-3 win over Kansas City on August 18th, he matched Don Newcombe (1955 Brooklyn Dodgers) and Elroy Face (1959 Pittsburgh Pirates) for the second-best record after 19 decisions; Hall of Famer Rube Marquard had started the year 19-0 for the 1912 New York Giants, for the only better mark ever. After winning his 19th game, Max was roughed up by the A's in his first attempt to become a 20-game winner on August 29th, allowing 6 runs in 5 innings, but was bailed out of a loss by a dramatic 9th-inning comeback by his teammates; in his second attempt on September 3rd, he pitched well but gave up a pair of 5th-inning runs to the Boston Red Sox while his opponent, Jon Lester was brilliant, and he ended up with a 2-1 loss, falling to 19-2 on the year. He lost his next start as well, 5-1 to Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox on September 9th. He finally won his 20th on his fifth try, on September 20th, defeating the White Sox, 12-5. He was the only pitcher in the major leagues that season to win 20 games, finishing at 20-6, 2.90 and was voted the winner of the the 2013 American League Cy Young Award. In the postseason, he won two games over the Oakland A's in the ALDS - one as a starter and one in relief, then was 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 13 1/3 innings in the ALCS, when Detroit bowed to the Boston Red Sox, who went on to win the 2013 World Series.

It took Max a few starts to get going in 2014, as he was 0-1, 2.70 after three outing, but he then turned on the gas, winning his next 6 starts, including three in which he did not give up any runs. His 1.83 ERA on May 16th was the best in the American League. On June 12th, he tossed the first complete game of his carweer when he defeated the Chicago White Sox, 4-0, with a three-hit shutout. He was the winner of the 2014 All-Star Game, after pitching a scoreless 5th inning with the score tied at 3-3, and then benefiting from the AL's two-run outburst in the bottom of the inning as they won, 5-3. On August 14th, he compiled a season-high 14 strikeouts in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, improving to 14-4 in the process, then became the first 15-game winner in the AL when he defeated the Minnesota Twins, 13-4, on August 24th.

Max Scherzer has a very distinctive follow-through when pitching; he will end his pitching motion with his head pointing directly at the ground, and his right foot high in the air. It is a very awkward position for fielding any grounders or line drives hit back at him, but it seems to give him additional velocity on his pitches. He worked on making his delivery less extreme during the 2012 season, to at least have his head facing the batter when he completes his follow-through. Another distinctive factor is that his eyes are of different colors: his right eye is blue and his left eye is brown.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 2-time AL All-Star (2013 & 2014)
  • 2013 AL Cy Young Award
  • AL Wins Leader (2013)
  • AL Winning Percentage Leader (2013)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 3 (2011-2013)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (2013)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (2013)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 2 (2012 & 2013)


AL Cy Young Award
2012 2013 2014
David Price Max Scherzer tbd

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