By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – If someone had said before this season that Max Scherzer, not Justin Verlander, would be the pitcher with the team’s best record by mid-June, few would have believed it.
Believe it or not, that is the case for the Detroit Tigers through 67 games this season. Not only is Scherzer pitching as well as or better than 2011 Cy Young and MVP winner Verlander, he will attempt Monday to achieve a feat only one other Tigers pitcher has ever accomplished – starting the season 10-0.
The last major league pitcher to accomplish the feat was Roger Clemens in 1997.
Of course, attributing wins and losses to an individual is a questionable practice, so a pitcher’s record is nowhere near the best indication of how good he is. The team’s offensive play and the play of its other defensive players influence the outcome as well.
For Scherzer, all those pieces have fallen in place on a regular basis.
Along with his nine wins, he has four no decisions. His second and third starts of the season, Scherzer allowed just one earned run each game but did not record wins. Had the offense been more productive, his win total might be even higher. On the other hand, Scherzer has also allowed at least four earned runs on four occasions, so if the offense had been less productive those occasions, he could have taken losses in those games.
Wins and losses aside, Scherzer has done a fantastic job this season. If the record is a faulty measure of pitching prowess, his walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) and strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) remove all doubt. Scherzer’s WHIP of 0.875 is the best in the major leagues, and his K/9 is 10.6
In eleven of his 13 starts, Scherzer has gone at least six innings. His two short outings have lasted five innings. In nine of his 13 starts, he has recorded at least six innings and allowed three runs or fewer.
By that last measure, Scherzer has provided quality starts in almost 70 percent of his appearances.
Monday against the Baltimore Orioles, Scherzer has a chance to make history, but even if he does not, he still has the distinction of being one of the league’s best pitchers to date.