Sometimes it feels like a curse. The Tigers were good enough, for long enough, with enough elite caliber players, that their demise from contention is now always attended by former Tigers doing great things on all sides. Our old friend Max Scherzer accomplished such a thing on Tuesday, becoming just the 17th pitcher in the modern era to record 300 strikeouts in a season.
With strikeouts at historic rates, this isn’t quite so rare as it was at other times in the sport’s history. Chris Sale accomplished the feat just last season for the Boston Red Sox, and in the American League. But not only does the 300 mark illustrate the swing-and-miss brilliance of today’s crop of pitchers, it also adds another nice feather to Scherzer’s cap, punctuating a spectacular seven season run that shows no sign of slowing. Tyler Kepner writing for The New York Times hails Scherzer as the perfect hero for the strikeout era. Jacob DeGrom probably has the inside track on the NL Cy Young award this year, but Scherzer has another very strong case of his own.
Here he is turning the trick Tuesday night against the Miami Marlins.
Congrats Max. We’ll never get over you.
Harold Castro is having a good time
Tigers infielder Harold Castro is having himself a pretty good week. Last week, Castro was relaxing at home in Venezuela, with the minor league season having ended several weeks back. One phone call, a hasty flight for he and his father, and the 24-year-old was starting in his first major league game on Tuesday night. Even better, he picked up his first big league hit, stole a base, and scored a run in the Tigers’ victory over the Twins. Castro admitted to being extremely nervous before the game but as expected, had no trouble settling in once the game was underway.
Victor Martinez collected the ball as it was thrown into the Tigers’ dugout after Castro reached with a single to right field, and pulled the old “switch balls and then throw it to a kid in the stands,” trick. He’s enjoying retirement.
So, a week at major league minimum and your first big league hit in front of your dad? That’s a good week for Harold Castro. He isn’t likely to get this opportunity again, so it was great to see him make the most of it.
Congrats to Harold Castro on his first Major League hit! pic.twitter.com/UAebT7588r— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 26, 2018
The National League is shaping up for a crazy finish
If you weren’t already excited for what is shaping up to be an outstanding postseason, just look at these records. The playoffs have already begun on the senior circuit.
Cubs 91-66— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 26, 2018
Cool: Real possibility of Game 163s Monday in Chicago and LA for NL Central/West titles.
Cooler: Three-way tie where Cards host NLW Game 163 loser for second WC.
Coolest: Six-way tie with 91 wins.
Shohei Ohtani will go under the knife
The Los Angeles Angels announced that Shohei Ohtani will undergo UCL surgery on his right elbow after the season ends. The decision was long expected, and the Angels were roundly criticized for some of their decisions regarding the young star’s health this season. In the end, his timetable for a return to pitching is basically unchanged. He won’t take the mound again until 2020, assuming and hoping that all goes as planned. However, because of the decision to postpone the surgery, forecast pretty accurately by FiveThirtyEight’s Neal Paine in July, it’s possible that Ohtani won’t be swinging a bat all that much in 2019 either.
Rookie Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres recently returned from Tommy John surgery in about six months. Los Angeles Dodgers’ shortstop, Corey Seager, is scheduled to return to action next spring, roughly 10 months after his UCL surgery. Typically, position players seem to make it back within a year’s time, but of course none of those players will eventually be tasked with throwing 100 mph fastballs again. Ohtani will have roughly six months to get back in time for spring camp. One would think the Angels would err on the side of caution.
It’s too bad. Ohtani has been worth 2.6 fWAR as a hitter, with a 151 wRC+ according to FanGraphs. He has another 1.0 fWAR as a pitcher, boasting a 3.56 FIP across 51 1⁄3 innings for the Angels. The 24-year-old moved to a new country amid an incredible media frenzy that never really abated throughout the season. He dealt with a balky elbow most of the year, with the prospect of surgery looming over him. And somehow he did nothing but rake and look incredible on the mound when healthy. That’s the craziest rookie season imaginable, and you have to think Ohtani will be the favorite for Rookie of the Year.
Plus there’s this video of him singing “Despacito” to his teammates that is just outstanding. In fact, the last three paragraphs were largely an excuse to post it. I feel well justified.
Around the horn
Jeff Sullivan has a good article on the worst defensive runs saved mark ever witnessed, and even though there is a chart in the body of the article listing the 10 worst defensive runs saved totals recorded by any team since 2003, the Tigers barely get a mention. Clean it up Phillies.
Luis Torres, for the Hardball Times, wrote a great tribute to New York Mets’ third baseman, David Wright, and the passing of heroes from the main stage. The Yankees may not bother with Bryce Harper now that Aaron Hicks is awesome. The strange tale of Twins fans who are mad at Joe Mauer. Chris Davis is lost and it’s kind of sad.
Meanwhile, say what you will about his ability to call balls and strikes from behind the plate, but Country Joe West won’t have your tv camera disrespecting the game.
"It's amazing he can see a camera leaning an inch over the railing but he misses strikes by 6 feet." -- Bob Brenly on umpire Joe West. pic.twitter.com/PyKULMHH1U— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) September 26, 2018