Tag: Detroit Tigers

Max Scherzer

Now with Max Scherzer, Nationals’ rotation could be historically elite


The Nationals have signed right-hander Max Scherzer to a seven-year deal worth more than $180 million, which now gives them a rotation that could be historically great. Even before the addition of Scherzer, it was already going to be tough to deal with, just as it was last season. Now with Scherzer in the fold, Tanner Roark, who had a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts this past season, likely moves to the bullpen until (if) the Nationals trade one of their starters.

Here’s a look at how each pitcher has performed over the past three seasons:

Tanner Roark 22 11 36 252.1 17.8% 5.0% 43.1% 6.4% 2.57
Jordan Zimmermann 45 22 96 608.2 20.1% 4.5% 43.9% 8.3% 2.96
Stephen Strasburg 37 26 92 557.1 28.0% 6.5% 47.3% 12.0% 3.10
Doug Fister 40 25 83 534.1 17.8% 4.7% 51.7% 10.1% 3.22
Max Scherzer 55 15 97 622.1 28.6% 7.1% 36.5% 8.7% 3.24
Gio Gonzalez 42 26 91 553.2 24.5% 9.1% 45.7% 7.5% 3.25

(Data courtesy FanGraphs)

With Zimmermann set to hit free agency after the season, he appears to be the most likely to be traded. Fister could also be moved, but as he is about three years older than Zimmermann, he wouldn’t bring a comparable return in a trade. Strasburg is reportedly available in a trade, but the Nationals have him under team control through 2016.

Since 1969 — when the pitcher’s mound was lowered — only 23 pitching staffs have finished a season with a combined ERA below 3.00, per Baseball Reference. If you exclude the strike-shortened season of 1981, that number falls to 21. The 1972 Orioles, with the four-headed beast of Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson, and Dave McNally have the record for the lowest aggregate ERA for a pitching staff at 2.58. That same year, the Athletics set the second-best rotation ERA at 2.64 behind Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman, Blue Moon Odom, Vida Blue, and Dave Hamilton.

The most recent threat to the title for best rotation occurred in 2011 with the Phillies (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels), but their aggregate 2.86 ERA ranks 10th. Adjusted for park factors and league strength, however, they do move up a few notches. The 1992 Braves are the only other rotation on the list since 1990.

The Nationals last year led the league in rotation ERA at 3.04 ahead of the Dodgers’ 3.20 mark. Take out Roark, who was a prime regression candidate (his 2.85 ERA beat his xFIP by nearly a full run), with Scherzer, and you have a rotation that could challenge the Phillies as the best modern starting rotation. If the Nationals decide to keep Zimmermann, Fister, and Strasburg, and they enjoy good fortune — both in terms of on-the-field results and pitcher health — they could climb the ranks as one of the best starting rotations in the era of the lowered mound.

Max Scherzer has a seven-year deal with the Nationals

scherzer getty

Update #2 (12:43 AM ET): Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for more than $180 million.

Update (12:20 AM ET): William Ladson of MLB.com confirms the deal.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that the Nationals have a seven-year in place with starter Max Scherzer. The amount of the deal is not yet known, though it’s likely to be north of the $144 million, six-year offer (and the $24 million average annual value) he rejected from the Tigers in the spring. It was reported earlier that the Nationals were one of two teams in talks with the right-hander.

With Scherzer in the mix, the Nationals may explore trading either Jordan Zimmermann or Stephen Strasburg according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

Scherzer, 30, has been one of baseball’s best starters over the past two seasons, owning a 39-8 record with a 3.02 ERA and a 492/119 K/BB ratio over 434 2/3 innings. He led the league in wins and made the American League All-Star team in both years and earned the 2013 AL Cy Young award.

As MLB Pipeline points out on Twitter, the Nationals are forfeiting pick #27 in the 2015 draft with the signing of Scherzer. The Tigers gain pick #35.

Marlins sign Don Kelly to a minor league deal

Don Kelly, Miguel Cabrera

Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that the Marlins have signed utilityman Don Kelly to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Kelly, 35 in February, had been with the Tigers since 2009. A veteran of seven seasons in the majors, he owns a career .232/.296/.336 batting line with 23 home runs and 95 RBI in 1,189 plate appearances. Despite his offensive shortcomings, Kelly is quite versatile as he has experience at every position on the diamond, including pitcher and catcher.

Report: Max Scherzer “close” to signing a seven-year deal

max scherzer getty

Free agent starter Max Scherzer is in discussions with the Nationals and at least one other team about a seven-year contract, per a report from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports verifies the report, adding that there’s growing confidence among Nationals officials that they’ll land Scherzer and that a deal is “close”.

Should they succeed in signing Scherzer, the Nationals could then trade starter Jordan Zimmermann, per Jon Morosi. Stephen Strasburg is another trade candidate, though Zimmermann is the most likely to be moved.

Scherzer, 30, won the American League Cy Young award in 2013, leading the league in wins with 21 while posting a 2.90 ERA and a 240/56 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. This past season, he was nearly as good, leading the league with 18 wins with a 3.15 ERA and a 252/63 K/BB ratio in 220 1/3 innings.

Report: Rangers close to acquiring Yovani Gallardo from Brewers

Cincinnati Reds v Milwaukee Brewers

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Rangers are close to acquiring starter Yovani Gallardo from the Brewers. Rosenthal adds that, should the deal go through, the Brewers may not be done making moves — they could make a run at free agent starter James Shields. According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, the Rangers aren’t planning to announce a trade today.

We learned recently that the Rangers weren’t linked to either Shields or fellow free agent Max Scherzer, but were one of the few teams linked to Phillies ace Cole Hamels. That they landed Gallardo, a formidable but comparatively cheaper option, is not surprising.

Gallardo, 28, is set to become a free agent after the season, so the Brewers are getting value for him while they still can. The right-hander finished the 2014 season with a 3.51 ERA and a 146/54 K/BB ratio in 192 1/3 innings. Gallardo has made at least 30 starts in each of the last six seasons.