Tag:Max Scherzer
Posted on: February 23, 2012 8:58 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 4:44 pm
  •  
 

Spring primer: Detroit Tigers



By Matt Snyder


The 2011 Detroit Tigers won the AL Central in a laugher, ending with a 15-game edge over the second-place Indians. The offseason was rather uneventful in Detroit for a while, but then the Tigers lost DH Victor Martinez to a torn ACL. And then they swooped in and landed slugger Prince Fielder with a 9-year, $214 deal. They'll enter 2012 as the heaviest divisional favorite in baseball and some will surely pick them to win it all.

Danny Knobler's Camp Report: Verlander's workload, expectations won't change | Likes, Dislikes

Major additions: 1B Prince Fielder, RHP Octavio Dotel, C Gerald Laird
Major departures: RF Magglio Ordonez, 3B Wilson Betemit, IF Carlos Guillen, SP Brad Penny

Probable lineup
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Brennan Boesch, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Delmon Young, DH
6. Alex Avila, C
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Andy Dirks, LF
9. Ryan Raburn, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Justin Verlander
2. Doug Fister
3. Max Scherzer
4. Rick Porcello
5. Jacob Turner

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Jose Valverde
Set-up: Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel

Important bench players
C Gerald Laird, IF Brandon Inge, IF Ramon Santiago, IF/OF Don Kelly

Prospect to watch
It would have been Turner here regardless, but there's extra emphasis on him now that the Tigers were unable to sign Roy Oswalt or trade for someone like Gio Gonzalez or Matt Garza. Thus, the path is clear for Turner to join the rotation out of spring at age 20, much like Porcello did before him. Entering 2011, Turner had never even pitched above High-A ball. But last season he appeared in Double-A, Triple-A and the majors. In 20 minor-league appearances, Turner was 4-5 with a 3.44 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 110 strikeouts in 131 innings. He struggled mightily in his three major-league starts, but it's a new year.

Fantasy sleeper: Delmon Young
"Owners should look for improved power numbers from Young this year, and with him hitting behind Cabrera and Fielder, his RBI total should get a jolt as well." - Al Melchior [Full Tigers team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Doug Fister
"Part of Fister's 2011 success was based upon holding batters to a .188 batting average on ground balls. The Tigers' infield defense overall should leave something to be desired, so Fister's WHIP will rise upward, even without a significant increase in walks. Owners may look to Fister as a No. 4 starter in mixed leagues, but in reality he may perform more like a low-end No. 5 SP or waiver wire option." - Al Melchior [Full Tigers team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Very simple: The Tigers win the World Series for the first time since 1984.

Pessimistic outlook
The infield defense is dreadful, which stunts the development of Porcello and Turner in addition to hampering Fister and Scherzer. With Jackson's strikeouts piling up, Boesch never really becoming what the Tigers desired and players like Avila and Peralta taking steps backward, the offense is basically a two-man show. With these issues, at least one AL Central team (Indians? Royals?) vaults past Detroit in a shocker.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 11:02 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Arizona Diamondbacks



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

If you're exhausted by the constant rumors we're circulating at the Winter Meetings, here's your fun little break. Today's installment of Homegrown brings the most powerful team in the bigs. Everyday in Chase Field would be like this past All-Star break's Home Run Derby. And the fans wouldn't even have to boo the entire time.

Lineup

1. Stephen Drew, SS
2. Miguel Montero, C
3. Justin Upton, RF
4. Carlos Gonzalez, CF
5. Dan Uggla, 2B
6. Carlos Quentin, LF
7. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
8. Mark Reynolds, 3B

Starting Rotation

1. Jorge De La Rosa
2. Brett Anderson
3. Max Scherzer
4. Josh Collmenter
5. Chris Capuano

Both De La Rosa and Anderson had season-ending surgeries in the real 2011 season, so if they did, we'd have to turn to Brad Penny and Ross Ohlendorf. We also have first-rounders Jarrod Parker and Trevor Bauer waiting in the wings. And good ol' Brandon Webb, too.

Bullpen

Closer - Jose Valverde
Set up - Javier Lopez, Sergio Santos, Daniel Schlereth, Vicente Padilla, Esmerling Vasquez
Long - Penny, Ohlendorf, Micah Owings

Notable Bench Players

Rod Barajas, Chris Snyder, Lyle Overbay, Conor Jackson, Scott Hairston, Emilio Bonifacio, Gerardo Parra

What's Good?

Wow, that's some serious power in the lineup. If everyone stayed healthy for a full season, there's every reason to believe all eight hitters would have at least 20 home runs, with Montero and Drew really being the only questions there. A handul of them would hit more than 30. So, yes, the power of the offense immediately jumps out, but really everything is pretty good here. There is depth, a solid rotation -- albeit injury-riddled -- and a good closer with quality setup men.

What's Not?

Reynolds is a butcher at third base. If Anderson and De La Rosa both fell injured before Bauer and Parker were ready, the rotation would become awfully thin. Even if they stayed healthy, there isn't a bona fide ace. The outfield defense isn't great, with Gonzalez and Quentin, but it isn't awful either.

Comparison to real 2011

The real Diamondbacks went 94-68 and won the NL West before bowing out in Game 5 of the NLDS to the Brewers. This team would be every bit that good, if not better -- and again, being that this is a hypothetical exercise, we're hypothetically assuming health to the top two starting pitchers. If this team played like it was capable, it could very well be a World Series champion.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 16, 2011 1:11 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 1:25 am
 

In elimination game, Max Scherzer comes up short

Scherzer

By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- "It's a tough pill to swallow," said Max Scherzer on the Tigers' Game 6 loss in the ALCS to the Rangers, ending Detroit's season.

Scherzer was perhaps most responsible for the Tigers losing, coughing up six runs in just 2 1/3 innings, walking four and punching out just one. Scherzer was erratic from the get-go, and it all caught up to him in a third inning from hell, when he recorded just one out, allowing three runs to cross the plate, plus an additional three charged to him after exiting the game, as Daniel Schlereth and Rick Porcello couldn't stop the bleeding.

"You want to come up huge for your team and be in this type of situation with the World Series on the line," Scherzer said, no doubt flashing back to his days as a child imagining this very situation. "To not pitch to your ability ... when that happens, that's a tough pill to swallow. ... You always want to be the guy to step up and help the team win."

ALCS Coverage
Scherzer, who was clearly hurting from the loss, recorded the third-shortest start of his career over 103 games across the regular season and postseason. His other two shortest stints actually came this year, going just two innings on May 26 against the Red Sox and July 2 against the Giants. However, that was a long time ago. Following the All-Star break, the light came on for Scherzer, posting a fielding-independent ERA in the low 3.00s and checking in with a sterling 4.33 K/BB. For comparison, across the entire year, only eight pitchers bested that mark -- and Justin Verlander was at 4.39. Given his success as of late, it's easy to see why Scherzer said he beat himself on Saturday, with three of his four walks coming in the third and all coming around to score.

"Anytime you start walking that many batters, it's bound to catch up to you," Scherzer said. "That's something I've done a pretty good job of this year, is minimizing the damage. For that to happen at this stage, at this moment, is extremely frustrating for me."

It's not as if Scherzer had struggled earlier in October, either. The right-hander defeated the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALDS, pitched 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief in Game 5, then held the Rangers to three runs in six innings in Game 2 before Nelson Cruz destroyed the Tigers with a walkoff grand slam. All told, going into Game 6, Scherzer's postseason debut saw him post a 2.70 ERA in 13 1/3 innings, walking five and striking out 13. Well, now those numbers are going to be pretty bad.

"He was out of whack for the most part all the way," manager Jim Leyland said. "His control was not good from the get-go, really. And he had a tough time. And we just couldn't stop the bleeding."

One of the most pivotal parts of Game 6 came in the third, when Scherzer thought he had Nelson Cruz struck out on a 2-2 pitch. The first-base umpire disagreed, causing Leyland to howl with rage and Fox announcers to openly question the call. While it's debatable that Cruz did offer, Leyland didn't pull any punches when asked his opinion after the game.

"I do and still will always question the check swing on Cruz," he said. "I thought that was definitely a strike. I thought he definitely swung.'

Cruz would go on to walk, and Scherzer would issue one final walk before being pulled from the game. If Cruz strikes out, the inning may have unfolded a very different way. Recreating the inning around Cruz's whiff projects a score of 6-2 after the inning instead of 9-2. Factor in Detroit scoring two runs in the top of the fifth, and suddenly it's a 6-4 game and anyone's ballgame.

"I thought he went," Scherzer admitted, noting he hasn't seen the replay. "At the end of the day, it still came down to how I managed the rest of the inning and I didn't do a good job of keeping them off the bases. I made more mistakes than just that one."

He made a ton of mistakes, and for that, Detroit is going home earlier than it wanted to.

"It's hard right now," Scherzer admitted, struggling with being able to look ahead to next season. The Tigers will return much of the team, and while Scherzer notes that "we have a pretty darn good team," he just can't think ahead.

"This isn't a good moment. I know life goes on, but ... it's just ... it's tough."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 16, 2011 12:07 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 1:21 am
 

Eye on Photos: Rangers win ALCS over Tigers



By Matt Snyder


The Texas Rangers have taken down the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS, four games to two. They have now advanced to the World Series for the second straight season after having never gone before. Let's take a look at the series that was, in pictures.

Click on any photo below to enlarge.

Beautiful pre-game festivities for Game 1 in Texas. (Getty Images)
Tigers ace Justin Verlander discusses things with home plate umpire Tim Welke after allowing a Nelson Cruz home run. (Getty Images)
Game 1 had a few rain delays, which affected the work of both starting pitchers -- Verlander and C.J. Wilson. (Getty Images)
Neftali Feliz records the final out of Game 1. (Getty Images)
Game 2 was called well before the scheduled time due to expected inclement weather. Instead, it was sunny and the grounds crew even watered the field. (Getty Images)
Scott Feldman's effort out of the Texas bullpen in Game 2 was paramount to the Rangers victory. (Getty Images)
Wait, Nelson Cruz hit a home run? Really? (Getty Images)
Priceless shot of the Rangers' dugout immediately after the crack of the bat on Nelson Cruz's Game 2 walk-off grand slam. (Getty Images)
Cruz celebrates the big blow of the series as he approaches home plate. (Getty Images)
Doug Fister made sure this series wouldn't be a sweep with a huge effort in Game 3 for Detroit. (Getty Images)
Game 3 was rough for Adrian Beltre, as he just couldn't quit fouling the ball off himself. (Getty Images)
Close play, except the ball was jarred loose. (Getty Images)
Jose Valverde's subdued reaction -- for him -- to closing down Game 3. (Getty Images)
Yes, weather was a major player in this series. (Getty Images)
Believe it or not, this was a successful double-play turn by Ian Kinsler. (Getty Images)
Miguel Cabrera was thrown out by a country mile at home, and the ensuing collision with Mike Napoli was one of the more awkward ones we'll ever see. (Getty Images)
The biggest hit in Game 4? Why, a Nelson Cruz home run, of course. (Getty Images)
Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Beltre share a laugh after Cabrera's grounder hit third base and jumped over Beltre's head for a go-ahead RBI double in Game 5. (Getty Images)
After Cabrera's double, Victor Martinez tripled as Cruz couldn't come up with a diving catch. (Getty Images)
And then Delmon Young put the game out of reach with a two-run homer. Wanna find the ball? Look at the red ad in the scoreboard, specifically the letter "f." (Getty Images)
Cabrera's solo homer drew first blood for the Tigers in Game 6. (Getty Images)
But the Rangers would go on to put nine runs on the board in the third inning alone to break the game wide open. (Getty Images)
Max Scherzer had two good innings in Game 6 before falling apart in the third. (Getty Images)
Josh Hamilton sacrifices his body in order to make a spectacular catch, ending the top of the fifth inning of Game 7. (Getty Images)
And then the first play of the bottom of the fifth showed the difference in the two ballclubs Saturday night. (Getty Images)
Really? Again? That's six home runs and 13 RBI in the series for Cruz. (Getty Images)


ALCS Coverage
Up next for the Rangers: Either the Cardinals or Brewers in the World Series. Due to the American League's All-Star Game loss, the Rangers won't have home-field advantage, despite having a better regular-season record than St. Louis and being tied with Milwaukee. Of course, Rangers' ace C.J. Wilson was the losing pitcher in that All-Star Game by virtue of allowing a three-run home run to Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:41 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 2:06 am
 

Anatomy of a loss: How Detroit fell in ALCS

Cabrera, Napoli

AnatomyBy Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Tigers had a massive implosion by Max Scherzer ruin Game 6, and as a result, their season is over as the Rangers advance to the World Series.

Let's take a look at the anatomy of the Tigers' series loss...

1. HEAD: Throughout the series, Detroit talked about taking it one game at a time, battling back from adversity, doing what it could to win each and every contest and not worrying about the past. All that is great, but actions speak louder than words, and the Tigers were horribly demoralized after Game 4's shocking extra-inning loss. In fact, after every loss, malaise filled the Tigers' clubhouse, and how could it not? The team gave its all and every game save the last was close. Every Tiger loss outside of Game 6 came either by a single run, or in extra innings. It was the narrowest of margins ... but they were losses all the same. That wears on you, and even winning Game 5 couldn't wash away all the stink once the series shifted back to Texas.

2. ARM: The Tigers couldn't ride their starting pitching to the promised land, despite entering the series with arguably three aces. Of course, there's Verlander fronting the rotation, but he didn't pitch like an ace in the ALCS. His start in Game 1 was cut short by rain, but by his own admission, his mechanics weren't quite right to start the game, and he ended up giving up three runs in four innings. People like to follow the narrative of Verlander as a great pitcher, but he still coughed up four runs total in 7 1/3 innings in Game 5. As for the other starting pitchers, Max Scherzer was fantastic in Game 2, but gave up a run in the seventh to allow the Rangers to tie, and eventually win, the game... and then, of course, he completely fell apart in Game 6. Doug Fister pitched brilliantly in Game 3, Detroit's first victory. In Game 4, Rick Porcello also turned in an incredible effort, but imploded at the wrong time. Even the bullpen was lacking aside from the heroics of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde, and Valverde got burned in Game 4.

3. OBLIQUE: The Tigers had two instances of obliques hurting the team. First, Delmon Young was left off the ALCS roster entirely due to suffering an injured oblique in ALDS Game 5 against the Yankees. However, the Tigers lucked into Young improving to the point he was able to replace Magglio Ordonez on the roster when Ordonez needed to be removed due to a fractured ankle. Young played in Games 2, 4 and 5, but racked up a 0-for-9 streak, the most at-bats of any player in the series without a hit. He snapped that distinction with two pivotal homers in Game 5, but it proved to be too late for Detroit to win out in the series.

In addition, Victor Martinez hammered a crucial home run in Game 3 to pace the Tigers to victory, but pulled his oblique in the process. The next at-bat, he didn't even offer at one pitch or take swings in the on-deck circle, so you knew he was hurting. He looked stiff and sore in Game 4, so the Tigers lost two of their most important offensive pieces thanks to the oblique injury, which has ravaged baseball all season.


ALCS Coverage
4. LEGS: At this point, I feel guilty for bringing this up for what is probably the billionth time, but I'm still incredulous at the decisions that the Tigers made in Game 4 with regard to baserunning. There are two particular situations that got me. The first was in the bottom eighth after the Rangers tied the game. Miguel Cabrera is on third base with one out. Delmon Young lofts a fly ball to right field, inhabited by Nelson Cruz who is a fine fielder with a rifle for an arm. Cabrera was sent home and was out by a mile. After the game, Jim Leyland said that if the throw was off-line, Cabrera scores. That's a cop-out -- that throw would have had to be incredibly off-line to the point where anyone could have scored. Even a five-hopper would have been enough to tag Cabrera out. It was a dumb move. Period.

In the bottom of the 10th, Austin Jackson stood on first base with one out. Improbably, he opted to steal second base and was gunned down by Mike Napoli. Leyland said he supported the decision -- which Jackson made on his own -- but he better just be covering for his player because that was another bone-headed move. With the throw out, the Tigers removed a man on base and the chance for Miguel Cabrera to hit that inning. Instead, Miggy watched as Ryan Raburn made the third out, then the Rangers put up a four-spot in the top of the 11th.

5. FOOT: Losing Magglio Ordonez was a brutal blow for Detroit, when he re-fractured his surgically-repaired foot in Game 1. Already hobbled due to Young's injury, losing Ordonez severely depleted the Tigers' offense to the point where it was, frankly, a non-entity aside from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the 3-4 spots. There's no telling what Ordonez could have done after hitting .365 after Aug. 12 in the regular season and .455 in the ALDS.

Related video: Tigers manager Jim Leyland speaks on the crushing Game 6 loss:



For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Base photo: Wikipedia

Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 1:20 am
 

Rangers ride offensive explosion to World Series

Napoli

By Evan Brunell

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers laughed all the way to victory on Saturday, demolishing the Tigers by a score of 15-5 to clinch the ALCS and advance to the World Series.

Hero: The Rangers offense has to be the hero here, as eight of nine starting position players reached base at least twice, and six did it by notching at least two hits. Oh, and the lone player that didn't reach base at least twice was Endy Chavez, who was pinch-hit for after just one at-bat. His replacement, Craig Gentry, collected two hits. That's just a stunning performance and a marker of not only just how bad Detroit's pitching was, but how incredibly potent the Rangers offense was. Eight different players scored, seven different players had a RBI. All told, the club notched
15 runs and reached base 25 times. Wow.


ALCS Coverage
Goat: Max Scherzer had been very impressive for the Tigers following the All-Star break, and equipped himself well in the postseason... until Game 6. Scherzer had absolutely nothing working for him and couldn't control the ball to save his life. He gave up four walks in 2 1/3 innings, also allowing five hits as he was scorched for six runs. There was absolutely nothing redeeming about Scherzer's start, and he was lucky enough to make it through the first two innings unscathed.

Turning point: The count was 2-2 on Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the third. The Rangers had already pushed across three runs to make the game 3-2 in favor of Texas, but obviously it was still a tight game that could have gone either way. On a 2-2 pitch, Nelson Cruz check-swung at a ball that the umpire ruled he didn't go around on, much to the ire of Jim Leyland. Cruz would eventually walk, setting up a David Murphy two-run, RBI single to open the floodgates. Maybe the Tigers would have still pummeled the Tigers into oblivion that inning, but the Rangers wouldn't have scored as much, certainly. If you recreate the inning with Cruz striking out, the Rangers would only have scored three additional runs, making it a score of 6-2 after the inning, not 9-2. Given the Tigers plated two in the top of the fifth, suddenly it's a 6-4 game, and the series is far from over.


It was over when... In the sixth inning, the Tigers asked Brad Penny to try and at least keep the Rangers offense down. Uh, yeah, not so much. With the score 10-4, Adrian Beltre greeted Penny with a double and came around to score with two out on a Craig Gentry single. But Penny wasn't done with his two-out struggles. David Murphy, who had been intentionally walked just before Gentry, scored on an Ian Kinsler single to push the margin of the game to eight runs. The Tigers already had enough trouble on their hands scoring six. But eight? Good night.


Related video: Rangers manager Ron Washington talks about the big victory:



For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Photo: Mike Napoli

Posted on: October 15, 2011 9:37 pm
 

Holland rattled to start, but Scherzer implodes

Holland

By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Derek Holland didn't get the game off to a very good start for the Rangers, with an amped-up crowd being stunned into silence when Miguel Cabrera went opposite-field in the first inning to put Detroit up 1-0 on a solo blast.

That hit was Cabrera's 13th straight in a LCS game in what is also his 13th career LCS game, so he's tied Greg Luzinski for the record to start an LCS career. Holland seemed cautious in the beginning to challenge hitters, leaving a fastball away right there for Cabrera to muscle up. In the second inning, Johnny Peralta also took an away fastball from Holland and deposited it in the left-field seats to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead and seemingly take the crowd out of the game before it even really started.

Lucky for Texas that Max Scherzer completely imploded, then. Scherzer was inconsistent to start the game but was pitching out of trouble... until the third inning. The righty induced Ian Kinsler into a grounder to start the inning, also the last out he would record in the game. The rest of his outing went as such: Four-pitch walk to Elvis Andrus (!?), single, double, single, walk, walk. Scherzer then departed the game with the bases loaded and three runs in, giving lefty Daniel Schlereth the honor of his first LCS appearance coming with the bases juiced. He couldn't come through, coughing up a two-run single to David Murphy and making the score 5-2, all runs debited to Scherzer.

Manager Jim Leyland quickly moved on from Schlereth, moving on to Rick Porcello to stem the bleeding. But Porcello couldn't, and Scherzer's outing concluded having given up six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, walking four and striking out just one, allowing five hits. All in all, horrible. Horrible, horrible. And the Rangers just wouldn't stop, racking up a 9-2 score by inning's end.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:32 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2011 4:05 pm
 

ALCS Game 6: Can Holland bounce back to win ALCS?

Scherzer, Holland

By Evan Brunell

Tigers at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET, October 15, Rangers Ballpark. Rangers lead series 3-2.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Well, maybe this series isn't over just yet.

Staring at elimination, Detroit bounced back with nothing short of a huge game on Thursday, taking the final game in Detroit by a score of 7-5.

Detroit rode a four-run sixth inning to victory behind the phenomenal arm of Justin Verlander and two home runs by Delmon Young, who has gotten press all ALCS for his injuries and nothing he's done on the field. Well, he's done plenty now, and with pitching matchups appearing to favor the Tigers in the final two games, this is anyone's series.

WHO HAS THE EDGE?


Unfortunately for Texas, their best pitcher is done for the series (although C.J. Wilson didn't exactly perform up to snuff in Game 5.)

Offensively, the Rangers still clearly hold the edge, but Detroit showed they don't have an offense as bad as the Mariners in Game 5, and Ryan Raburn has been rather impressive filling in for both Young and Magglio Ordonez when they were affected with injuries. Defensively and on the basepaths, the Rangers have the obvious edge. But what it really comes down to is pitching and at this point, no one can deny Detroit has the edge here.

Tigers' Max Scherzer: Scherzer has had an impressive postseason thus far, giving up just five runs in 13 1/2 innings across two starts and one relief appearance. Scherzer's only ALCS outing to this date came in Game 2, the game where Nelson Cruz made history with a walkoff grand slam.

In that outing, Scherzer was chugging along until the seventh after an inconsistent start to the game, an inning he probably shouldn't have come out for. He gave up a Cruz homer to lead off the inning and then was immediately yanked. With Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde both receiving two full days off, Leyland shouldn't have to ride Scherzer hard.

"Scherzer, what an arm," Rangers manager Ron Washington raved prior to the righty's first start. "It's unorthodox, doesn't throw anything straight, and for some reason when he faces us, he finds the strike zone with more consistency with all his pitches."

Scherzer has been particularly hot since the All-Star break and at this point should be considered a No. 2 starter. He made three starts against the Rangers in 2011, posting a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings, striking out 12 and walking four, with the team winning two games. Cruz has two homers off Scherzer in his career and is hitting .333 while Michael Young has three extra-base hits against Scherzer, but only four hits in 21 plate appearances. Aside from Cruz, no one has really keyed into Scherzer yet.

Rangers' Derek Holland: Holland, like Scherzer, enjoyed a nice run in the latter half of the 2011 regular season, but inconsistency still plagues him significantly as his Game 2 start opposite Scherzer showed. Holland actually had a shaky start to the postseason in Game 2 of the ALDS but recovered to win the game. He also impressed in relief in Game 4, but the wheels completely fell off against Detroit in Game 2 of the ALCS.

Holland gave up four hits and three runs in just 2 2/3 innings, with Scott Feldman manning up and blanking the Tigers for 4 1/3 innings, setting up the stage for Cruz's heroics. You can bet that Feldman will be ready to go at a moment's notice should Holland fail. In addition, you can also bet that Washington won't mess around and leave Holland in the game and try to extend his outing if it's clearly not working. At this point, in a Game 6, you don't take chances.

Holland's start in the ALCS against Texas is the only time he's faced the club in 2011. That's obviously in Detroit's favor but add in Delmon Young being in the lineup, and one has to seriously consider the fact the Tigers might not just be "slightly" favored in this game... but heavily favored. Reading too much into small sample sizes is not recommended, but Young has six hits in 12 at-bats against Holland over his career, so he obviously has something working against the lefty.

LINEUPS

Tigers Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Austin Jackson CF 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 Ryan Raburn RF 2 Elvis Andrus SS
3 Miguel Cabrera 1B 3 Josh Hamilton CF
4 Victor Martinez DH 4 Michael Young 1B
5 Delmon Young LF 5 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Jhonny Peralta SS 6 Mike Napoli C
7 Alex Avila C 7 Nelson Cruz RF
8 Brandon Inge 3B 8 David Murphy DH
9 Ramon Santiago 2B 9 Endy Chavez LF

Max Scherzer RHP
Derek Holland LHP

NOTES

  • Weather complicated each game in Texas earlier this series. Game 1 had two rain delays, while Game 2 was postponed a day due to inclement weather. Well, good news. We're back to a normal Texas drought for Game 6, with 80-degree weather during the day and nighttime climbing into the 70s with no precipitation expected.
  • Miguel Cabrera extended his LCS hitting streak to 12 games to start his career, one shy of Greg Luzinski for the record.
  • Nelson Cruz's five home runs so far in the LCS is tied for the LCS record, while his 11 RBI is tied with David Ortiz and B.J. Upton for the top spot. He already has 11 postseason home runs in his career over two seasons. I mean... come on.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com