Continuing with my theme on young pitchers ready to break out onto the scene, I’ll be taking a look at the Tiger’s Max Scherzer.
Scherzer lit up the minor leagues, putting up Ebby Calvin LaLoosh numbers in the K department (without hitting any bulls). He whipped through the Diamondbacks organization and got the call up to the show toward the end of his second season as just a 24-year old. In 56 innings that season, Scherzer put up monster numbers, considering it was his first look at MLB hitters: 3.05 ERA, 66K/21BB, and well less than a hit per inning, despite an unfortunately high 0.316 BABIP.
His 2009 season gave us a bigger sample size, and Max showed his short run of success the season before was no fluke. His strikeouts dropped slightly, but still sat above one punchout per inning, an impressive number for a starter who pitched 170 innings. His 9.2 K/9 ranked Scherzer 8th among NL starters, and of those 8 his K/BB ratio was 3rd best behind Tim Lincecum and Ricky Nolasco (another one of my up-and-comers).
Scherzer cranks his fastball up to 94mph on average, and brings a Slider/Change up combo in the mid-80s. The slider is his best pitch. Though he throws it just 13% of the time, Fangraphs shows that it’s saved him 8 runs over a league average pitch during his 226 innings in the bigs. Look for Scherzer to continue fooling hitters with that devastating slider this season in Detroit, and look for an ERA under 4.00 in the youngster’s first season in the AL.