The Most Important Player in the World for the Tigers

No, not him. But yeah, he’s obviously important, too. And interesting.

Going into the playoffs, every player on the Tigers is going to be vital. They’ll all have their roles to play, whether it’s Miguel Cabrera showing the world how awesome his is at the plate, Jose Valverde continuing to be perfect in save opportunities, and all the way down to Don Kelly showing everyone how…whatever it is he does.

But if Detroit’s going to make it to the World Series and beyond, I think there’s one guy under the microscope more than any other, at least to me. If he fails, I can’t see this team making it past the ALCS…if they make it that far.

Who is it? Hint: It’s not Will Rhymes.

Max Scherzer is going to be the key to the Tigers’ postseason chances.

Mig, V-Mart, Avila, Jhonny and the boys will deliver at the plate. Don’t let the Triple-A lineups Leyland has sent out there since clinching the Central fool you. The offense will be fine, especially with the struggles Boston and New York are having in their rotations right now. Texas, outside of Alexi Ogando, doesn’t scare me, either. And Tampa might make it, but eff them, too.

And look, we all know Verlander will be lights out. Doug Fister has been a second ace since arriving from the hell that is Seattle. The bullpen seems to be in a groove right now. But without someone following the Big Two in the rotation, those other AL offenses will end up eating us alive. Rick Porcello still doesn’t have the stuff to blow anyone away. And Brad Penny showed us yesterday why he won’t be on the postseason roster unless he has some sort of scandalous pics of Leyland with a farm animal.

But Max Scherzer does have the stuff to take those offenses apart. He just needs to show it in more than 2/3 of his starts.

Max has started 31 games. He’s 14-9 with a 4.39 ERA in 184.1 IP, while walking 53 and striking out 162. Those numbers are fine, but they don’t completely tell the story of Max Scherzer’s 2011 season.

In 11 of the 31 starts, Max has seemingly pitched out of his brown eye and gone less than 6 innings. His ERA in those games is 9.17. The crazy thing is, many of those starts have been against crappy teams. Two against the Royals, and one each against Oakland, San Francisco, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Toronto. The other four? Tampa, Boston, Texas, and New York. Ruh roh.

But in his other 20 starts, Mad Max has gone at least 6 innings pitched, pitching out of the blue eye. In those starts, his ERA is 2.38! Three outings have seen him pitch 8 innings (two against the White Sox, one against the Yankees). He is capable of being as good as any pitcher in baseball.

This is the Max we need to show up in the playoffs. If you follow JV and The Dougie with Good Max? They can't be beaten in a 5 or 7 game series.

It’s all in how his command is on any given day, I guess. Don’t confuse that with control, though. He’s walking 2.6/9 innings this year compared to 3.1/9 innings over his career. That’s good. But his hits per nine innings are up to 9.5. It was 8.0 last year. That’s bad. He needs his movement on the ball to be the way it’s capable of being and in the way that it’s been in 2/3 of his starts. Otherwise he gets bombed out there, and he resembles Brad Penny without the herpes.

Whatever. I’m not a numbers guy. But my point remains the same. Max Scherzer is the secret weapon, the key, the whatever you want to call it for the Tigers to win it all in 2011. At the end of last year, he was pitching just as well as Verlander was. And he’s shown at times this year that he can still be that guy.

Avoid the brown eye, Mad Max. Nothing good comes out of the brown eye.

We’re counting on you.