ALCS Pitching Preview: Max Scherzer

Cashman shoots down A-Rod/Marlins trade rumor
Justin Thomas elects free agency

The season is officially on the line tonight, as the Yankees are one loss away from an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Tigers in the ALCS. CC Sabathia will be on the mound on regular rest and that’s exactly who the Bombers want out there, but pitching hasn’t been the problem. The hitting has been, and tonight the batters will see hard-throwing right-hander Max Scherzer.

Scherzer, 28, went to the Tigers in the trade that brought Curtis Granderson to the Yankees, and he’s shaken off concerns about his durability by throwing at least 185 innings in each of the last three seasons. He’s got a little A.J. Burnett in him in the sense that he’s enigmatic and is more hittable than his stuff indicates he should be, but Scherzer is still pretty good. He just happens to be the fourth best starting pitcher in his own rotation.

2012 Performance vs. Yankees

Date Tm Opp Rslt Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF Pit Str
Apr 29 DET @ NYY L,2-6 L(1-3) 4.2 7 3 3 7 4 1 0 7.77 28 119 62
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/17/2012.

Just the one ugly start back in April, that’s it. Andruw Jones went 2-for-2 with a homer and a walk off the bench in that game, that’s how long ago it was. Those seven walks are a career-high for Scherzer, who struggled big time in April before pitching very well the rest of the season. Despite only the one meeting this year, both sides are certainly familiar with each other though after the ALDS last season and various regular season matchups (four total, to be exact) since the trade that brought Scherzer to the AL.

Pitch Selection (via Brooks Baseball)

Scherzer is a three-pitch pitcher who acts like two two-pitch pitchers. Right-handers get the fastball and slider while lefties get the fastball and changeup. That’s pretty much it, he’s very straight forward. The fastball usually sits comfortably in the mid-90s, but Scherzer has been battling some shoulder fatigue lately and he’s been sitting the low-90s more often than not. We really don’t know how much that will help the hitters if it continues tonight, but I can’t imagine it’s a bad thing for the Yankees.

Performance & Results

vs. RHB 351 0.258 2.52 34.8% 4.0% 37.9% 44.2% 18.0% 13.2%
vs. LHB 436 0.360 3.93 25.0% 10.6% 35.4% 39.4% 25.5% 10.2%

Unlike Justin Verlander yesterday, Scherzer has a significant platoon split. The guy eats up right-handers but has his struggled against left-handers because he doesn’t strike them out nearly as often and will walk them more frequently as well. It’s worth noting that some poor ball-in-play luck (.378 vs. 273 BABIP) plays a part in the huge split.

Regardless, it goes without saying that the Yankees have to take advantage of that, perhaps by again sitting Alex Rodriguez in favor of Eric Chavez even though neither guy is really hitting. Joe Girardi could trot out a lineup with only two true right-handed hitters — Russell Martin and Eduardo Nunez/Jayson Nix — and those guys could easily bat eighth and ninth. Last night’s ninth inning mini-rally was encouraging if nothing else, and today the Yankees have a chance to build on it and actually generate some offense by stacking lefties against Scherzer.

Cashman shoots down A-Rod/Marlins trade rumor
Justin Thomas elects free agency
  • Eddard/Syrio Forel/Occasional Troll

    Let’s hope we can get to Scherzer early and get in that wretched Tigers bullpen. CC is the guy to right the ship. Go yanks!

  • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM)

    They just posted the line up that Scherzer is going to face on LoHud
    Ichiro Suzuki LF
    Nick Swisher RF
    Robinson Cano 2B
    Mark Teixeira 1B
    Raul Ibanez DH
    Eric Chavez 3B
    Russell Martin C
    Brett Gardner CF
    Eduardo Nunez SS

    LHP CC Sabathia

    I have no idea why Alex isn’t in the line up with the season on the line…I mean seriously, you can say he’s looked terrible against RHP but Chavez has looked just as bad since about the middle of August. I know that Joe and A-Rod supposedly have a great relationship, but if I’m Alex I feel like my manager just stabbed me in the back then spit in my eye when I turned around to see who did it.

    • Get Phelps Up (wins needed: 8)

      With Scherzer’s big platoon split, I’d want as many lefty hitters as possible against him.

    • Slugger27

      chavez has not looked just as bad. not even close. hes making contact, not check swinging twice per at bat, and putting the ball in play. plus its a righty on the mound.

      i cant believe this many ppl want arod in the lineup. against a hard throwing righty id rather have anyone not named chris stewart hitting.

      • TCMiller30

        You’re clearly not talking about the same Chavez..

        • Slugger27

          im talking about eric chavez. the one on the yankees.

          he looks bad. he looks real bad.

          still not even close to as bad as arod. hard throwing righty makes the decision a no brainer.

          • TCMiller30

            0-14 with 6 K’s and a run costing error .000/.000/.000


            3-23 with 2 walks 12 K’s. .130/.200/.130

            They’re both ugly, but I’ll take the guy who has gotten on base and has actually contributed positively to runs. Not to mention, just in general, I have way more confidence in ARod making something happen than Chavez

    • Laz

      I can see you wanting to give swish a start since its either him or grandy, but why put swisher and cano 2nd and 3rd. Ichiro has been one of the few getting on base, and you put the 2 that have failed with risp all postseason behind him? Would rather see gardner up there, he put together some decent ab’s vs verlander yesterday.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        It’s the whole “lefty/righty” thing. Girardi wants to make it tougher for Detroit to bring in a specialist (LOOGY/ROOGY) if Scherzer is knocked out. I don’t agree with it, but I’m pretty sure that’s why he did it.

  • Nsalem

    Eddie Yost. The Walking Man passed away today. A short and underrated infirlder for the Washington Senators for over 20 years retired with a.254 BA and a .394 OPB. I wish be was playing in this era when his OPB and P/PA. skills would be viewed as legendary. I remember seeing himas a kid and 10 to 15 pitch at bats were not uncommon with him. When Rizzuto was an announcer he marveled at his plate appearances and there was always a few Holy Cow pronouncement as he fouled off pitch after pitch. I always knrew he was special I just did not know why. Check oily his reference page. He was incredible. Apologies for going off topic.

  • Reuben Sierra’s Chains

    Hopefully Max will be giving free passes tonight and someone on this Yankee team can get into a 3 run HR to stave off elimination.

  • Effthisnoise

    No A Rod, no Granderson? So the answer to the season ending is to roll out a tripple A lineup? At least the misery ends tonight.

  • Mike Myers

    Wait, the Yankees are playing tonight? I thought they were on break til April

  • tipsie

    Has there been a more frustrating post-season? The joy of winning an ALDS (and a Game 5!) has been completely overcome by this daily drama of lineup anticipation / ARod stuff / then a game where the bats are silent.

    CC has been dealing, but how sad is it that an 8IP / 1 or 2 ER performance may not be enough?

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

      8 inning complete game 1-hitter.

  • awesomeo

    I have a feeling the fact that everyone feels this is over now that they will loosen up and actually hit the ball. I’m thinking we take the next two games at least.

    • Nigel Incubator-Jones

      Historically this isn’t the case. But I’m hoping you’re right. Unlike most potential 4 game sweeps, these teams are much closer in talent. Not to bring up 2004, but Boston was as good a team as the Yankees, which turned into them being able to come back. Or so I like to think.

    • mustang

      I don’t know about them, but I know I feel loose. Can’t really take this team seriously again unless they somehow make it back to NY.

  • Nigel Incubator-Jones

    Let’s hope Scherzer isn’t getting 3″ off the plate to lefties. I really like the strike zone graphic on TBS, but it hasn’t been good for my blood pressure.

  • oldmanalex

    brian cashman transcript from today. can someone explain the AROD drama to me in not discrete terms?

    • mustang

      They hate him and all that he stands for.

  • mustang

    It’s kind of funny that people are actually still arguing about whom in the line-up.

  • pistol pete

    Not playing Arod for Chavez who’s 0 for 14 is absolutely absurd. Girardi is spiteful and petty. What has Chavez done to earn the starting spot?

  • Dan

    They should absolutely pursue a trade to the Marlins, and I think they will. It’s the best baseball move, it’s the best move for getting under $189, and you get rid of a massive headache. And it’s plausible that something could happen. If you send ARod to Miami, they can send back Buehrle and Bell to offset the contracts. Maybe if the Yankees also throw in $40 million they can get a decent prospect back. Even if they don’t, you could potentially have 3 players (including Buehrle and Bell) take A-Rod’s salary spot in trying to get below $189. This gives the team more depth and flexibility.

    I’m not a huge fan of either player. But Buehrle can definitely get it done in the AL, and at the very least would be a solid number 4 starter and an innings eater. And maybe Bell would benefit from the change of scenery, or at least is an okay guy in low pressure situations.

    Alex would be perfect for Miami. They need a 3bman. He’s from Miami. He’d help put butts in the seats, especially when he approaches 700 homeruns (since he’s got 5 years left, that number will definitely happen).

    I think there’s a trade here.

    • mustang

      If I’m Miami I as for Nova.

      So Buehrle, Bell and a decent prospect for A-Rod and Nova. NO MONEY throw in.

      Think about it.