Saturday, August 20, 2011
Scherzer changes it up on Cleveland
By Lee Singer
Facing a Cleveland Indians lineup stacked with eight lefties, Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer relied on his changeup more than he has all season, helping the Tigers push their lead in the American League Central to 2 1/2 games over the Indians.
He threw 34 changeups among his career-high 127 pitches (26.8 percent), a season high in both raw number and percentage.
For the season, Scherzer has thrown his changeup 28 percent of the time to lefties and just 9 percent of the time to righties.
Scherzer also commanded it well, keeping his changeup on the outer third of the zone to Indians lefties. He threw 28 of his 32 changeups (87.5 percent) to lefties away, his highest percentage the past three seasons in starts in which he threw at least 20 changeups.
Indians hitters were just 1-for-9 in at-bats ending in a changeup away.
Scherzer did all this despite mostly falling behind Friday.
He started just 12 of 27 hitters (44.4 percent) with a first-pitch strike, his second-lowest percentage in a start this season.
However, he battled back by getting Indians hitters to expand their strike zone.
Despite throwing just five of his 15 pitches in 1-0 counts in the strike zone, Scherzer threw 12 of his 15 pitches in those same counts for strikes, meaning he went to just three 2-0 counts.
Indians hitters missed on nine of their 13 swings when they were ahead in the count, including missing all four times they swung against Scherzer's changeup.
Overall, Scherzer induced a season-best 20 swings and misses, including seven on his changeup.
Meanwhile, despite taking the loss opposite Scherzer, Indians starter Josh Tomlin was still able to continue his run in the record books.
Tomlin (6 2/3 IP on Friday) has thrown at least five innings in all 37 starts of his MLB career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s tied with George Winter for the second-longest such streak since 1900; Winter’s streak spanned the 1901 and '02 seasons.