He’s been anything but reliable in his last two starts against the Kansas City Royals.
Scherzer looks to regroup from another lackluster effort as the Tigers conclude their road schedule against the surging Royals on Wednesday night.
Having already clinched the AL Central, Detroit (89-65) continues to fight for home field in the AL playoffs. The Tigers took a step back Tuesday night, losing 10-2 to the Royals. They fell into a tie with West leader Texas and dropped four behind the New York Yankees for the league’s top record.
Kansas City (68-87), which has won eight of nine, could make things difficult on the inconsistent Scherzer (14-9, 4.39 ERA).
Scherzer has yielded at least five runs in nine outings this year - most in the majors among pitchers with a winning record. After opening the season 6-0, he’s gone 8-9 with a 5.12 ERA since mid-May.
The hard-throwing right-hander, who allowed a combined two runs over his previous two starts spanning 14 innings, was hit hard during Thursday’s 6-1 defeat at Oakland. He allowed five runs and seven hits - including three homers - in five innings as the Tigers’ 12-game winning streak came to an end.
Scherzer didn’t face much difficulty slowing down Kansas City in his first two starts against the Royals this season, going 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA. His last outings in the series haven’t gone nearly as well.
After allowing four runs in five innings of a 4-3 road defeat Aug. 7, Scherzer gave up seven runs and a season-worst 10 hits in just three innings during a 9-5 loss Aug. 29.
“I don’t know what it is about Scherzer,” Royals second baseman Johnny Giavotella(notes) said following that win. “We’ve put good swings on the ball against a lot of pitchers and not gotten anything to show for it, but we’ve been better against him.”
On Tuesday, Hosmer became the first Royals player to record a five-hit game since Billy Butler(notes) on July 27, 2009, going 5 for 5 with a three-run homer. The slugging 21-year-old has pounded Tigers pitching of late, going 11 for 12 (.917) with four homers and six RBIs in his last three games versus Detroit.
“He looks like he’s got a chance to be a really special player and he’s a two-way player,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s a good defender as well. He’s going to be a big hit in this league for a long time. He’s got to be a top candidate for rookie of the year.”
Hosmer, who raised his average to .300 with 18 home runs and 75 RBIs since he was promoted from Triple-A Omaha on May 6, is 16 for 29 (.552) during a six-game overall hitting streak.
Butler, meanwhile, was scratched Tuesday with the flu and is uncertain for this game. He is 6 for 26 (.231) lifetime against Scherzer.
Kansas City will give the ball to Felipe Paulino(notes) (3-6, 4.12), who is 2-1 despite a shaky 5.10 ERA over his last five starts. In his only appearance against Detroit this season, the right-hander surrendered three runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-3, 10-inning loss Aug. 5.