Note: I fell behind by two days, but here is the first installment of the second annual 30 Tigers in 30 Days feature, where I’ll preview 30 players that could be significant contributors to the 2012 Tigers. The order is completely random and nonsensical. The analysis, hopefully, is not.
2011: 15-9, 4.43 ERA, 56 BB, 174 K
Career: 36-35, 3.92 ERA, 210 BB, 598 K
Bill James: 12-9, 3.66 ERA, 60 BB, 188 K
ZiPS: 12-10, 4.07 ERA, 61 BB, 172 K
RotoChamp: 12-9, 3.92 ERA, 63 BB, 184 K
Expected Role: Starting pitcher
The expected step forward from Max Scherzer never quite happened in 2011 thanks to wild inconsistency – at times he was great, at other times not so much. He pitched virtually an identical amount of innings as he did in 2010 and actually ceded fewer walks, but gave up more hits (a slightly but not overly inflated .314 BABIP against). His xFIP was 3.70, though, indicating that he may have gotten a bit unlucky on the home run ball.
As it is, the projections like him this year, especially Bill James, who likes him to strike out almost a batter per inning this year. The key for Scherzer will be keeping the walk rate and the homers down – he did well on the first last year and not so well on the second. One has to remember, though, that Scherzer is a year removed from a season in which he posted a 3.50 ERA – and that’s after getting off to a poor start in 2010, too. Scherzer has the ability to be the Tigers’ number two starter, but consistency will be an issue (seriously, his game scores jump all over the place if you look at them consecutively). After all, Scherzer pitched very well in the ALDS and very not-so-well in the ALCS. There’s a big difference in the Tigers rotation when Scherzer is pitching well. Personally, I expect at the very least his ERA to drop back under 4 this year.
Tomorrow: Al Alburquerque