Mar 5, 2014; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (37) pitches during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Cy Young Winner Max Scherzer Snubbed For Opening Day Start

What does a guy gotta do to get the ball Opening Day around here? That has got to be the question Max Scherzer is asking himself after being passed over for the opening day start in favor of Justin Verlander.

Scherzer was the run away favorite for the American League Cy Young Award down the stretch last season. Mad Max was 6-2 with a 2.67 ERA and was a big reason the Detroit Tigers were Central Division Champions once again.  Not to mention the clutch relief performance Scherzer turned in during the playoffs helping the Tigers advance.

So stretch run and postseason dominance coupled with the American League Cy Young  award should be enough to start for your team on Opening Day right?

Not according to Manager Brad Ausmus.

If he wins another Cy Young and he returns to Detroit, then we’re really going to have an issue.”

Win another Cy Young! Isn’t one enough.

Not according to Justin Verlander.

The guy won the Cy Young. Any other team in baseball, and he’s the Opening Day starter. He earned it. But this is a unique situation in Detroit where there are three guys that earned it (he includes ERA champion Anibal Sanchez in that group). Brad had to make a tough decision and name one of us.”

Fact is neither Justin Verlander nor Anibal Sanchez won the 2013 Cy Young Award.  That distinction belongs solely to Max Scherzer.

This is a snub of historic proportions, especially considering Max Scherzer will be the only pitcher who has won the Cy Young not to start on opening day since according to sports researcher James Symthe.

OK, here’s the full list of reigning Cy Young winners that didn’t start on Opening Day. Scherzer’s next.

— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) March 17, 2014

Baseball is a game rich in history and tradition. Snubs like this to players aware of this are not generally overlooked.  Max Scherzer has handled this well so far and most assuredly give his best effort this season but this snub may cost the Tigers if they intend on bringing him back next season. Especially if Scherzer can duplicate his 21-3 performance from last season.

Justin Verlander’s recovery from off-season core muscle surgery has been nothing short of miraculous. Naming Justin Verlander the opening day starter is certainly a way of rewarding the Ace for his hard work this off-season.  But if the Tigers are serious about signing Scherzer beyond this season, giving the start to Scherzer on Opening Day could have gone a long way to accomplishing that.



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Tags: Brad Ausmus Detroit Tigers Justin Verlander Max Scherzer

  • Lambert Klein

    Great article Tony. I agree. Feel badly for Max.

  • David Andrews

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think this is the type of competition that exists between Detroits star pitchers.

    I can see them competing against one another – you got 12 SO’s I am going to get 14; you allowed 4 hits, I am only going to allow 2, etc.

    But I do not think it rubbed Verlander wrong for Max to take CY home and I don’t think Max will feel that bad about JV starting. That would be they competition that destroys teams, and I don’t see it.

    Of course, it does sell news papers so I can see why there are those that would like to make an issue where none exists.

    • Tony Fischer

      Mark my words David this will be an issue when it comes to Max’s decision to re-sign. I don’t think there is a chemistry issue here but if Max has another great year and can’t get out from under JV’s shadow, he might chose to make a name for himself elsewhere. This was an opportunity for the Tigers to extend Max a little extra respect and they missed it.

  • Darryl Johnson

    One reason Max got the early momentum last year was because he began the season as the #4 starter. People forget that he started the home opener last year, not the first 3 games. This meant that he began the season going up against a bottom-end opposing starter. The next impact was that he often had a TON of run support, especially early in the year before the starters were re-shuffled a bit after the All Star break. Run support gives every pitcher confidence. I do not mean to discredit Max, by all accounts he had a fine year. But, the reality is that his stats were distorted a bit. Just have a look at who JV faced as the opposing pitcher. The vast majority of the time JV was up against the #1 pitcher on the other team… so there was a valid reason why he had less run support too.