With all the success* Max Scherzer has enjoyed in the nation’s capital, it is easy to forget that it was just three seasons ago that he had such a dominating year in the Motor City for the Detroit Tigers.
Yet at the same time, it is impossible for Tiger fans to forget.
Letting Scherzer get away has led to the biggest falling of dominoes in Detroit as far as starting pitching is concerned.
Ever since the man with one brown eye and one blue eye left, the Tigers have made desperate attempts to replace him, but they’ve come up short each and every time.
Many Tiger fans are bitter that Scherzer left. Not just because he changed uniforms, but because of the way it happened. In his introductory press conference with the Washington Nationals, Scherzer announced that he chose Washington because he felt it was his best chance to win a World Series.
This was coming off of four consecutive division titles for the Tigers, including a trip to the World Series.
When Tiger fans heard that, it was a slap in the face.
But I choose to remember the positive side of Scherzer’s time in Detroit. In fact, it was the trade that brought Scherzer to Detroit that pushed the Tigers from a playoff contender to a World Series contender — and it lasted until he left.
Three years ago this week, Scherzer was at his peak in Detroit.
With a 6-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on July 3, 2013, Max became the first pitcher in 27 years to start a season 13-0, the last one being Roger Clemens in 1986 for the Red Sox.
Like Clemens, Scherzer would go on to win the Cy Young Award that season and cement his status as an ace in the majors.
It is a status that hasn’t left him since.
But it has left the Tigers.
Without Scherzer, the Tigers turned to David Price at the 2014 trade deadline, only to deal him the following year at the deadline when they dumped players for the first time in years because they were out of contention. That decision to be sellers helped hasten the exit of general manager Dave Dombrowski from Motown. Meanwhile, Price went on to clinch the American League ERA title at 2.45 but did so in a Toronto uniform.
In his two half seasons with the Tigers, Price was 13-8 with a 2.90 ERA and he won the all-important Game 162 in 2014 to clinch the division title. But the Tigers decided they couldn’t afford the lefty and traded him for Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris.
Those young starters have done OK in Detroit, but nothing compares to the time the Tigers had Scherzer, Verlander and Anibal Sanchez at their peak powers.
The Tigers still have those other two, but since Scherzer left, neither one has been the same, though Verlander has been considerably better this season and reclaimed his position as the team ace.
Meanwhile Sanchez, who actually won the ERA title the same year Scherzer won the Cy Young, has pitched like a batting practice tosser, being relegated to the bullpen this season.
There’s a list of moves that have derailed the Tigers after four straight division titles from 2011-14, but the one that started it all was not resigning Scherzer.
Whether fans are angry about it or not, they will always remember how great the Tigers were with him.
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