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June 13, 2014

What You Need to Know

Scherzer's First Gem

by Chris Mosch


The Thursday Takeaway
Thursday night’s clash between Chris Sale and Max Scherzer was so enticing that it inspired MLB.com to bring back #AceOff.

On a per-game basis, Sale has arguably been the best starting pitcher in baseball this season, but it was Scherzer who stole the show with a complete-game shutout to bust himself out of a string of shaky starts. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner had been knocked around in his previous four outings, serving up at least eights hits, a home run, and four runs in each of them.

But Scherzer established his fastball and was able to get ahead early in the count against the White Sox, notching first-pitch strikes against 21 of the 34 batters he faced, and then handcuffed opposing hitters with either one of his secondary offerings. Against left-handers, Scherzer worked his changeup low and off the plate, throwing 11 of his 15 offspeed pitches against lefties for strikes—five of the swing-and-miss variety.

To same-sided hitters, Scherzer relied on his slider to compliment his heater, as he got the White Sox to swing at 15 of those 21 offerings, and come up empty five times. The 29-year-old sat around 93-94 MPH with his fastball for most of the game, but regularly dialed it up to 95 MPH during his final two innings of work. He reared back for his fastest pitch of the night against Dayan Viciedo—a 96.3 MPH fastball—on his final pitch to notch his eighth strikeout and put the finishing touch on the shutout. It took 179 career starts, but Scherzer can finally say he’s thrown a complete game, which ESPN Stats & Info put into perspective just before his final inning.

Sale had quite the night himself, as he fanned 10 Tigers over seven innings and didn’t hand out any free passes. The lanky southpaw generated 22 swings-and-misses—nine with his fastball and 13 with his changeup—and allowed just five hits during the game. He was also aided by some nifty defensive play behind him. His middle infielders had his back on groundballs in the second inning that seemed to be good bets to get through the infield.

First, Alexei Ramirez on a hard-hit ball in the hole by Victor Martinez:

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (06/13)
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Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (06/12)
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Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (06/16)
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Premium Article Pebble Hunting: Alex A... (06/13)

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