Detroit Tigers: Max Scherzer’s 2012 season came with heartbreak

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Max Scherzer’s tremendous 2012 season with the Detroit Tigers didn’t come without an excess of heartache.

As we wait for professional sports to return, there are plenty of classic games being replayed on all of the major networks.  For Detroit Tigers fans, Fox Sports Detroit (FSD) is often playing games between 2006 and 2014, you know, when they were respectable.

Generally, we the fans have the luxury of tuning into a Justin Verlander no-hitter or a Magglio Ordonez walk-off home run to send the organization to the World Series.  It’s one positive thing about a very odd time in our life without sports; it allows us to rejoice while viewing the more recent ‘glory-years’ in Tigers’ history.

If it wasn’t Verlander on the hill leading the Tigers, there is a good chance it was the man we called ‘mad-Max.’  Max Scherzer earned the name after regularly stomping around the mound like an elephant after a strikeout.  If he wasn’t emphatically strutting around the hill, he was snarling like a junkyard dog, looking into his catcher for a sign.

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Recently I had been casually observing a Detroit Tigers regular-season game from the 2012 season on FSD that Scherzer had started; it brought back a terrible memory.

Although it hadn’t been the game currently being aired, the year 2012 and watching Scherzer on the hill reminded me of Alex.

It was that summer of 2012 when Alex Scherzer, Max’s brother, unfortunately, committed suicide at the family’s home in Missouri that June.  Alex suffered from depression.

I remember Max taking the ball for Jim Leyland‘s Tigers in Pittsburgh just two days later with his family in attendance.  Max mentioned he’d only pitch if everyone in his family agreed with the decision and joined him at the ballpark. The great American pastime provided the family with some normalcy during an awful time in their lives.

Like many brothers, the two were best friends.  They spoke often, Alex had been Max’s rock providing him with a much-needed vote of confidence after a bad start, and the first to cheer him on after one of his many stellar starts.

Alex broke down the film of his elder brother by three years and even helped him become the power-pitcher he’d become by aiding him with his pitching motion while he was in the minor leagues.

If you recall, Max had a rocky road as a professional after being acquired by the Tigers.  He’d even be sent down to Triple-A Toledo to work out some kinks before transitioning himself into the ace he’d become, Alex was the calming voice to provide him with confidence.

Something that always stuck with me as I recalled the situation was Max saying he’d never delete Alex from his contact list on his phone.  Perhaps a way to honor his late brother, but also having that sense of comfort knowing he can scroll through old text messages and sift through the conversations, picking out some positive memories along the way.

It’s just one of those sad stories that touched me in a way that I will never forget.  I’ve linked the in-depth story published by ESPN that can be found here.

In 2012, behind Scherzer’s stellar pitching, especially his ten strikeout performance against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship series, catapulted the Detroit Tigers to their second World Series appearance in the last six years.

That 2012 postseason run Scherzer turned in may have given the right-hander the determination to become the pitcher he’d remain until today.

After winning a career-high 16 wins to date in ’12 to go with 231 strikeouts in just 187.2 innings pitched, also a career-high to date 11.1K/9 innings.

In 2013, with the Detroit Tigers, Scherzer went an incredible 21-3 record (still a career-best), striking out 240 batters in 214 innings of work.  He’d lead the entire league with an extraordinary WHIP of 0.970, which still stands as his third-best ever en-route to his first career Cy Young victory.  He’s won two more with the Washington Nationals since.

Perhaps one of the franchise’s biggest mistakes was to allow Scherzer to walk in free agency.  Detroit reportedly ‘low-balled’ Max in 2015, who eventually signed a seven-year $210-million deal with the Nationals.   But don’t worry Tiger fans, a year later, for a mere $8-million less per season, we’ve had the luxury of enjoying Jordan Zimmermann formally of those Nationals.

Mike Ilitch would be ashamed of the empire he built. dark. Next

Scherzer’s mantel is now complete after winning a World Series in 2019.