Max Scherzer finds missing 5 mph in dominant Triple-A start

Detroit's Max Scherzer(notes) wasn't simply unlucky prior to his demotion to the minors, he was bad. Very bad. This bad:

42.0 IP, 54 H, 9 HR, 16 BB, 26 K, 7.29 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, .323 BAA

Scherzer's K/9 had dipped to a career-low 5.57, and he allowed a line drive rate of 22.5 percent. That's Zach Duke(notes) territory right there. Again: Bad. Hopefully you had the good sense to kick him to the curb before I did.

Without question, the most alarming thing about Scherzer's early-season performance was the drop in velocity. Every pitch in the right-hander's arsenal was down a few ticks; his average fastball was just 91.8 mph. If you suspected that he was hurt, you weren't alone. Scherzer arrived in the majors two years ago with a fastball that reached the high-90s.

In Thursday's start against Triple-A Durham, he rediscovered the lost velocity. Scherzer pitched eight shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out 10. His fastball reached 97 mph, which obviously didn't happen too often in Detroit.

If this were merely a case where a failed big leaguer found success in the high minors with his usual stuff, then we wouldn't bring it to your attention. But Scherzer has tweaked a few things. This from Alex Raskin at

The 25-year-old was poring over footage of his final big league outings when he noticed a peculiar habit he had developed.

"I knew something wasn't right compared to last year," Scherzer said. "The day when I saw the video is when I realized a change needed to be made.

"When I got optioned down, I had a mechanical flaw in my arm action. I was wrapping the ball around my body too much and I thought that was the cause of why my arm slot was lower."


"We worked on shortening my arm action in hopes that I can get on top of my off-speed pitches better," Scherzer said. "The ball was flattening out. It took away all the little things that make a fastball good: the deception, the movement, the life."

You don't need to rush out and reacquire Scherzer in standard-size leagues, because he'll almost certainly need to string together a few more quality efforts before returning to the Tigers. Just keep him on the radar. When he's right, he's awfully useful.


Photo via AP Images