DURHAM, NC – Max Scherzer (pictured) ended the 2013 season as baseball’s only 20-game winner (21-3), he started the All-Star Game and now he will start the opening game of the American League Division Series. Scherzer, who pitched in the American Association with the Fort Worth Cats in 2007, will take the ball for the Detroit Tigers on the road tonight against the Oakland Athletics.
With good reason, the former American Association right-hander has become the favorite son of Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland. Scherzer’s 13-1 record and 3.19 ERA at the midway point of the season prompted Leyland to select him as the A.L.’s starting pitcher in the midsummer classic. The righty’s second half featured a more impressive ERA at 2.44, plus an 8-2 record that helped earn him the start in game one of the ALDS.
Tonight will mark Scherzer’s seventh career postseason start. Overall, he is 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in the playoffs. Scherzer’s last postseason decision came in the clinching game of last season’s American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. The Tigers’ starter propelled Detroit into the World Series with 10 strikeouts in 5.2 innings. Scherzer allowed just one run on two hits to help the Tigers complete the four-game sweep.
Detroit fell in the World Series to the San Francisco Giants in four games, but the Tigers have high hopes in the 2013 playoffs. For the third consecutive season, the Tigers won the A.L. Central Division after 24 years without a division title. Statistically, Detroit owns both the best team batting average (.283) and the best staff strikeout total in baseball (1,428).
Scherzer, who led the Tigers with 240 strikeouts, will begin Detroit’s A.L. Pennant defense tonight at 9:30 p.m. He will be opposed by A’s righty Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65). Detroit has won 11 pennants and four World Series titles in its history. The last Tigers World Series championship was in 1984.