Max Scherzer is already having a career year.
Now he can become the fastest Detroit Tigers pitcher to 18 wins in 45 years.
Scherzer will try to continue his brilliant beginning to the second half with another dominant effort against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
Scherzer (17-1, 2.84 ERA) leads the majors in wins while his 175 strikeouts and 0.90 WHIP are among baseball’s best.
He’s one of the major reasons why Detroit (69-48) is atop the AL Central by 6 1/2 games over second-place Kansas City, but he’s quick to deflect praise.
“It’s not so much my achievement. It’s a team achievement,” Scherzer told the team’s official website. “If I’m going to sit here and take credit for these wins and say I’m the reason why we’re winning, I’d be pretty naive.”
The right-hander has a chance to become the first Tigers pitcher to win 18 games in his first 24 starts since Denny McLain did it in 23 during his 1968 Cy Young Award-winning season.
Scherzer kept rolling Thursday, yielding two runs in seven innings of a 10-3 win at Cleveland, improving to 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA since starting the All-Star game.
“He’s always good,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He was pretty much vintage Max.”
He certainly fits that description against the White Sox (45-72). Scherzer has beaten them in four straight starts behind a 0.91 ERA while holding them to a .149 average.
Chicago has been the victim of two of his wins since the Midsummer Classic. His latest visit to the South Side resulted in a 7-3 victory July 22, while he allowed two runs in eight innings.
This matchup will require Scherzer to help the Tigers rebound from Monday’s 6-2 defeat to the White Sox. It’s the first time he’ll have taken the hill after a Detroit loss since July 8.
Despite his team’s defeat in the opener of this three-game series, Miguel Cabrera went 2 for 4 with a solo homer to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. The reigning AL MVP has a .432 average with five homers and 12 RBIs over that stretch, and he’s 13 for 31 (.419) over his last eight games at U.S. Cellular Field.
Cabrera leads the majors with a .366 average and 111 RBIs, but his 37 homers are second to Baltimore’s Chris Davis (43) as he tries to become the first hitter to record back-to-back Triple Crown seasons.
The White Sox have gone seven straight series against the Tigers without winning back-to-back games.
They’ll counter with Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.43), who’s 0-2 with a 3.99 ERA over his last eight starts.
Both losses in that stretch have come against the Tigers, though he’s only allowed five runs in 13 innings. His teammates have backed him with one run and committed four errors.
The left-hander was impressive in his most recent outing versus Detroit on Aug. 2, allowing two runs with seven strikeouts in seven innings of a 2-1 loss.
He followed that up five days later with a shaky performance against the Yankees, giving up four runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-5 win in 12.
Gordon Beckham is 7 for 12 with a double, two homers and five RBIs in his past three home meetings with Detroit after getting three hits and plating a run Monday.
He’ll face Scherzer for the first time this year, but he’s 5 for 26 lifetime in their matchups after going 0 for 9 with three strikeouts in 2012.