Key Stats: Max Scherzer is ranked higher here than anywhere else, but in terms of starting pitchers I only rank him 35th, so it’s not too different from Tristan Cockcroft. Scherzer took a step back in the numbers from 2010, but was better than some of those numbers would indicate. His xFIP was lower than his FIP by almost 0.70 runs and his K:BB was up about 0.5 versus the 2010 season that made him the number 122 overall player.
Skeptics Say: Only four pitchers gave up more home runs than Scherzer last season. That problem gets more complicated when you consider his 1.35 WHIP. Scherzer has a tendency for blowing up a team’s ERA in one start. In six starts he allowed at least two home runs last year and in all of those starts he gave up at least five runs. Scherzer is still relatively young, so perhaps consistency will come with age.
Peer Comparison: CBS ranks Jair Jurrjens ahead of Scherzer. This was certainly the case at the all-star break last year, but after that point Scherzer proved to be the better pitcher.
Jurrjens: 1 win 25 K 5.88 ERA 1.65 WHIP
Scherzer: 5 wins 78 K 4.09 ERA 1.23 WHIP
Jurrjens was hurt, but he was also pitching way over his head with the 1.87 ERA he had in the first half. Jurrjens is the better ERA and WHIP pitcher than Scherzer, but the strikeouts are well in the favor of Scherzer. Going into last year, Scherzer was the higher injury risk, but now the scales are tipped in his favor.
Team Outlook: Scherzer was the only pitcher in baseball with an ERA north of 4 and at least 15 wins last season. Scherzer had the 6th highest run support in baseball. That stat simply won’t repeat itself even if the Tigers offense gets better (which it should without Magglio Ordonez). Scherzer also benefitted from Jose Valverde not blowing one save in 49 opportunities. Again a number that can’t be replicated. Scherzer will have to pitch better to win 15 again next year.
Projection: Scherzer is going to improve on his 2011 ERA and WHIP, but there will always be questions about his health.
15 wins 179 K 3.96 ERA 1.29 WHIP in 200 innings