Detroit Tigers: 5 Keys to Max Scherzer Developing Any Sense of Consistency
Many casual fans may not know this, but there are two Max Scherzers.
The first one can be incredibly dominant and look comparable to any other ace in the league. The other one, however, is incredibly inconsistent and unable to find the strike zone for long periods of time.
Detroit needs a powerful Max Scherzer in order to bolster a relatively strong rotation with Verlander, Fister and an emerging Rick Porcello.
Here are five keys to Max Scherzer getting back on track.
Own the Zone
In order for Scherzer to continue his dominant ways, he needs to own the strike zone during each and every at-bat.
There are times when Scherzer shies away from batters, which helps hitters get ahead in the count and force more pitches.
Scherzer has incredible ability, but it is key for his self-esteem and pitch choice that he continue to pound the strike zone as often as possible.
This will not only allow Scherzer to rack up more strikeouts, but it will also allow him to force more ground-ball or fly-ball outs, which will enable him to eat up more innings.
Passionate Detroit fans know the difference between a confident Max Scherzer and a weary and fearful one.
If Scherzer wants to continue the success that he had during his last start against Colorado, it is imperative that he continues to fuel his self-esteem in a positive way.
There are signs that Scherzer is beginning to build confidence. During the postgame interview after Detroit''s 5-0 win against Colorado on June 16th, Scherzer told reporters that there was no way he would come out of the game, no matter how long the rain delay lasted.
"'Yeah, otherwise I was flipping chairs,' he said. 'I wanted to stay in that game. I didn’t care if we were playing at 9 o’clock at night.'"
This was a pivotal victory for Scherzer's season, as it may prove to be a turning point for his confidence as the season progresses.
Get Ahead of Hitters
When Scherzer gets ahead of hitters, he is one of the best pitchers in the game.
Following an 0-1 count, hitters are currently hitting .256 against him. While this is not a staggering statistic, the numbers continue to improve.
After an 0-2 count, hitters are at .230; more impressively, after a 1-2 count, opposing hitters have a .204 average.
Another surprising statistic shows that when Scherzer begins a count at 0-1, he has went on to strike out the batter 63 times out of his 100 total strikeouts.
There is no doubt that Scherzer is a strikeout pitcher. This means that for him to see any type of consistency in his game, it is absolutely critical for him to get ahead of hitters.
If he can do that, he could take a remarkable step forward in his career.
Continue Dominance over Hitters Leading off Innings
When a pitcher can get the leadoff hitter of an inning, it speaks volumes both for his and his team's confidence.
Because the pitcher only has to worry about getting two more outs, he can ease his way through the rest of the inning.
Max Scherzer is pitching at an incredibly high level when it comes to the leadoff hitter of all innings.
In the 75 leadoff at-bats he has faced, opposing hitters are currently hitting .200, and Scherzer has fanned 33 of them.
If he can continue to dominate the leadoff hitter, Scherzer can continue to improve all of the other elements of his game.
This is a critical step in Scherzer becoming the valued No. 3 pitcher he was supposed to be at the beginning of the season.
Use Slider and Changeup Effectively
When Scherzer has a great fastball, his other pitches become even more deadly.
His changeup and slider can be very good when he uses them effectively. With the type of fastball Scherzer can throw, it is incredibly hard for batters to time his breaking pitches.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland told the Detroit Free Press that he thought Scherzer did a very good job at locating all of his pitches in the win against Colorado.
“He really had good stuff today: 97, 98, slider, changeup, command of the strike zone [...]. He just attacked the strike zone with outstanding stuff today and really kind of overmatched them, to be honest with out [sic]. He was really good. Really good.”
If he can continue to use these other pitches to his advantage, Scherzer can find some sense of consistency that will follow him throughout the 2012 season.