Who is Max Scherzer?

Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer
June 17 2013 Detroit MI USA Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer 37 pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park Rick Osentoski USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer is the first Tigers pitcher to go 10-0 in over a century.

Max Scherzer is the first player to do that since Roger Clemens in ’97.

He lives in Royal Oak — gets his hair cut at Charlie’s Haircuts for Men and Boys.

He is not Justin Verlander, nor his he Anibal Sanchez or Doug Fister, yet he remains under the radar of all three.

He’s a dark horse for the AL Cy Young Award. He’s like a silver coin in a golden basket. If only he could get out from under the light of his teammates.

Last year, Scherzer went 16-7 for the Tigers, with a 3.74 ERA, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Last year he also led baseball with 11.08 strikeouts per nine innings, and was second with 231 strikeouts. If you care, his WAR was 4.5, and his BABIP was .333, but who’s looking at numbers when watching him pitch? It’s like eating a hot dog in the parking lot when a no-hitter’s being thrown.

I get my haircut at Charlie’s too, for the rare chance I’ll ask Max what he’s putting on that fastball.

Scherzer’s quietly been one of the American League’s best pitchers since his arrival in Detroit, but he’s hidden behind even greater things like Miguel Cabrera‘s bid for a second Triple Crown, Justin Verlander’s mediocrity, and Jose Valverde‘s uncertainty.

Scherzer doesn’t have a yellowhammer curveball, nor a blinding slider. It’s the late action on his fastball that dazzles. This year, Scherzer is second in the MLB with a 10.56 K/9 ratio, and third in strikeouts with 116.

For now, nobody’s thinking about Verlander’s middle-of-the-road 2013, or catcher Alex Avila‘s batting average, because every fifth game, Tigers fans have another brilliant pitcher to watch as he makes a sustained bid to be one of baseball’s best.

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Tomas Laverty
Tomas Laverty, frequent contributor to the MLB section, runs a Detroit web design company called Detroit Spaces.