Max Scherzer: Why the Young Detroit Tigers Hurler Will Become a 2011 All-Star

Christopher CzarContributor IMarch 24, 2011

NEW YORK - AUGUST 16:  Max Scherzer #37 of the Detroit Tigers delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees on August 16, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The December day the Detroit Tigers dealt Curtis Granderson to New York Yankees was a gloomy, winter day in Detroit matching the spirits of the Tigers fans.

Gone was a great ambassador for the Tigers, Detroit and baseball in general and few of the Old English D faithful wanted to see him gone.

A year and a half later, I doubt there is any Detroiter not in the same realm of existence as Charlie Sheen that wouldn't do that trade again.

The Tigers acquired a leadoff hitter that Granderson never could be (Austin Jackson), a wily left-hander who's transitioning to the rotation (Phil Coke), a young hurler expected to be the late-inning left-handed reliever (Daniel Schlereth) and, most importantly, right-handed starter Max Scherzer.

Scherzer did nothing to contribute to the second-half collapse by the Tigers last year. After a terrible start to the season, Scherzer fixed his mechanics in Toledo and had a 2.46 ERA while striking out 158 in 153.2 innings after his recall to Detroit.

Despite an ERA close to seven for over a month of the season, Scherzer finished the season 13th in the AL with a 3.5 ERA. 

This is the year for Scherzer to truly shine and be in the mix for an All-Star spot.

Tigers fans may not realize what they got when their team acquired Scherzer. He was a top-level prospect and early draft pick who showed flashes in the majors before being acquired. He's got great stuff and is extremely intelligent and uses it to his advantage. 

Maybe most importantly, he has the ability to be an ace on a team that already has an ace.

Scherzer was drafted 11th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks and in 2008 was briefly rated as the top prospect in the minors by Baseball America when he was with the Diamondbacks. 

He struck out seven batters in his first appearance (in relief) in 2008 and posted a sub-3.5 ERA until his last three starts of 2009.

He has basically pitched two bad months of baseball in his career and since they were consecutive baseball months (September of 2009 and April of 2010). It appears to be that he momentarily regressed in his career and has straightened himself out.

Scherzer is a power pitcher but also has a good slider and changeup. His fastball can hit mid-90s and his changeup is mid-80s, an optimal difference in speed as to confuse hitters. 

He's also extremely intelligent (a 35 on his ACT?!? He should have pitched for Harvard, not Missouri) and uses statistical analysis to his advantage

Based on the theory that he can't control the percentage of fly balls that are hit for home runs, he started attacking the bottom of the strike zone to limit the number of fly balls that are hit off of him. 

His starts this spring have shown he's inducing more ground balls and this statistical approach shows he's a smart pitcher who's always trying to improve himself. 

Because of this, I like his chances to continue to improve.

Finally, Scherzer has the benefit of pitching behind a top-tier ace in Justin Verlander. Even though he'll be counted on heavily, Scherzer won't have the pressure to carry the staff that Verlander will have on him.

Although they're both power pitchers, Verlander and Scherzer are different types of pitchers. Verlander's style is more overpowering (with a wicked curveball), so there's not a concern of hitters adapting to Scherzer after he follows Verlander in the rotation.

Max Scherzer isn't a household name and not many Tiger fans were excited when the team traded for him. 

I predict that those who aren't excited about him now, will be when he pushes for an All-Star spot this July.