Max Scherzer got off to a shaky start this afternoon, walking the first batter he faced and giving up a single to the second hitter, but then he escaped the first inning without any damage and went on to shut out the Royals for eight innings.
His final line: 8.0 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, 110 pitches.
That may not seem like a big deal for the reigning Cy Young winner, but actually in going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA last season Scherzer never completed eight scoreless innings in a start.
He allowed zero runs in four of his 32 outings last year, but they were 6.0, 6.0, 7.0, and 7.2 innings each. He did throw eight innings seven times, going 5-0 in those starts, but allowed 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, and 4 runs.
Or, put another way: Max Scherzer’s first start of 2014 was better* than any of his 32 starts in 2013, and he was the best pitcher in the American League in 2013.
(*Arguably, I guess, but you get the idea.)
UPDATE: And here’s another thing that didn’t happen to Scherzer much last season: Detroit’s offense provided him with only one run of support and the bullpen blew a 1-0 lead, costing him a “win.”