The Tigers know if they make the postseason that Justin Verlander will be their Game 1 starter, but for much of the year, manager Jim Leyland hasn’t had a definitive answer for who would be his No. 2.
Max Scherzer apparently would like to apply for the job.
Scherzer was brilliant in Saturday’s big win over the White Sox, spinning eight shutout innings while allowing just four hits and one walk with nine strikeouts. With the nine punchouts, the 28-year-old became the first pitcher this season to reach 200 strikeouts.
It’s the type of performance that’s been common for Scherzer of late. The hottest pitcher in the American League, Scherzer boasts a 1.03 ERA and 43/9 K/BB ratio over his last 35 innings. He’s put up a 2.76 ERA and 83/22 K/BB ratio over 65 1/3 innings since the All-Star break.
Those numbers have come after the right-hander posted a 4.72 ERA in 17 first half outings, as Scherzer has often gone through ups and downs during his career. What he’s doing now is reminiscent of what he did in his first season in Detroit in 2010, when he put up a 4.61 ERA before the All-Star break before rebounding with a 2.47 mark after the Mid-Summer Classic.
It’s certainly possible that Scherzer could hit another rough patch at any moment, but it seems doubtful given how unhittable he’s been of late. It looks like he’ll be a fantasy stud over the final month.
Final Start for Strasburg Set
September 12, 2012.
It’s a day that Stephen Strasburg’s fantasy owners and baseball fans in general hoped would never come. But, alas, we’re nearly there. When Strasburg toes the rubber at Citi Field that night, it will be the last rubber he steps on this season.
“We had our parameters in place at the beginning of the season, we had our philosophies and our protocols,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told the Washington Post Sunday. “That seems like the right number of innings to end his season.”
Strasburg is currently sitting at 156 1/3 innings after dominating the Cardinals over six stellar innings Sunday, which means he’ll likely wind up throwing about 170 for the season. It would be a jump of just under 50 from the 123 1/3 innings that he threw in 2010, and a jump of about 60 from the 109 frames he spun in his final year at San Diego State.
With a 2.66 ERA in 15 second half starts, Strasburg is pitching some of his best ball of the year. But, the Nats are committed to their decision to handle him with kid gloves despite having already virtually wrapped up a playoff spot.
The Nats should be OK without Strasburg. They’ll still have one of the better rotations in the league, and the right-hander’s likely rotation replacement, John Lannan, is a capable fill-in. But, there’s no doubt that it makes them a less intimidating playoff matchup.
National League Quick Hits: Joey Votto (knee) will play one last rehab game at Triple-A Louisville Monday before being activated. Votto homered Saturday in his fourth rehab game and has picked up two hits over eight at-bats. He’s been out of action for the last six weeks ... The Cardinals will promote top prospect Shelby Miller from Triple-A Memphis this week. Miller isn’t expected to get any starts down the stretch, as he’ll be used in a mop-up role ... Jorge De La Rosa (elbow, forearm) will resume his rehab assignment on Wednesday. The left-hander was shut down back in June after developing tightness in his left forearm. He could make a few appearances for the Rockies late this season ... The Braves are hoping to get Andrelton Simmons (finger) back from the disabled list next weekend. He’s been sidelined since July 8 with a fractured right pinkie finger ... Andrew Cashner will rejoin the Padres’ rotation this week. The flamethrower looked good in his brief turn in the rotation towards the end of the first half and is worth scooping up if you have the roster space ... Juan Carlos Oviedo (elbow) will visit Dr. James Andrews this week. He could need Tommy John surgery ... The Phillies are undecided on whether to activate Carlos Ruiz from the DL this month, as he’s still feeling some pain in his left foot. Ruiz has been out since early August with plantar fasciitis ... Carlos Beltran tweaked his left knee in Sunday’s loss to the Nationals and isn’t expected to play Monday ... Chipper Jones drilled a two-out, three-run, walk-off homer Sunday against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. Chipper is now batting a healthy .302/.381/.500 with 14 homers and 58 RBI in his last season.
American League Quick Hits: Jurickson Profar made quite a splash in his major league debut Sunday, homering in his first at-bat and then doubling in his next trip to the plate. Profar won’t receive much playing time down the stretch, but he’s obviously a must-have in keeper leagues ... Mark Reynolds smacked a pair of home runs in Sunday’s win over the Yankees. The streaky corner infielder is red-hot, batting .324 (24-for-74) with eight homers and 17 RBI over his last 23 contests ... Chris Tillman exited his start Sunday with tightness in his pitching elbow. He’ll undergo an MRI but is confident that the injury isn’t serious ... Brandon Inge will undergo season-ending surgery this week on his right shoulder. He’ll be available to pinch-hit until the operation is performed ... Ricky Romero was blasted for seven runs on eight hits while failing to record an out in the second inning of Sunday’s loss to the Rays. His ERA (5.80) is the highest it’s been since his first start of the season. The Blue Jays have no plans to shut the left-hander down ... The Tigers activated Al Alburquerque from the disabled list Sunday. Alburquerque has missed all season with an elbow injury but could eventually work his way back into high-leverage innings ... Curtis Granderson sat out Sunday’s game after leaving Saturday with a hamstring injury. An MRI came back negative, though, and he’s expected back in there soon ... Brett Anderson spun six innings of one-run ball in Sunday’s win over the Red Sox. He’s allowed just two runs in three starts since being activated from the DL.