Should the Tigers shop Max Scherzer?

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Today Ken Rosenthal plays matchmaker and puts the Nats and Tigers together on a possible Max Scherzer deal.

To be clear: it’s not a rumor or even a news nugget. It’s really just a “what-if/could be.” But (a) Rosenthal is up front about that; and (b) he isn’t one to be silly and irresponsible, so it’s not like it isn’t at least plausible. More to the point, though, it brings up a legitimate subject: what should the Tigers do with Max Scherzer, who hits free agency after the 2014 season.

If I’m the Tigers: I put him in my rotation for 2014 and enjoy 30+ wonderful starts from him, all the while working quietly on an extension. That’s because if I’m the Tigers I still make a lot of dough even with my high payroll, what with a full park every day and an infusion of new national TV money.

But Mike Ilitch (and his heirs) may not wish to have that payroll spiral ever-higher. Because, after all, you have all kinds of obligations and not necessarily a ton of flexibility. And if you’re going to look for some savings, forging an extension to Scherzer may be the easiest place to do it. You still have Verlander and Sanchez on long term deals. You have Drew Smyly ready to make the leap to the rotation. You have Miguel Cabrera, whose contract ends in 2015, and if he’s still killing baseballs through next year, you’re gonna want to extend him.

The Tigers aren’t the Rays, so they don’t have some obvious imperative to trade an ace nearing their walk year. But they should — and probably are — at least considering it.

Brewers on the brink of their first pennant in 36 years

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A series that had swung back and forth twice already swung back in Milwaukee’s favor last night with a convincing win. That it was convincing — it was not at all close after the second inning — is a key factor heading into today, as Craig Counsell has his bullpen set up nicely to shorten the game if his Brewers can get an early lead.

Josh Hader — who, if you are unaware, has not allowed a run and has struck out 12 batters in seven innings of postseason work — did not pitch yesterday or in Game 5. As such, he’s had three full days off. Given that this is a win or go home day and, if they win, he’s guaranteed two more days off before the World Series, he’s good for two innings and could very well go for three. That’s not what you want if you’re the Dodgers.

But it gets worse. Jeremy Jeffress pitched last night but it was only one pretty easy inning, so he could go two if he has to. Corey Knebel pitched an inning and two-thirds but he could probably give Counsell an inning of work if need be. Joakim Soria didn’t pitch at all yesterday. Between those guys and the less important relievers, all of whom save Brandon Woodruff are all pretty fresh, the Dodgers aren’t going to have any easy marks.

But the thing is: Counsell may not need to go that deep given that Jhoulys Chacin, their best starter of the postseason, gets the start. So, yes, in light of that, you have to like the Brewers’ chances tonight, and that’s before you realize that the home crowd is going to be louder than hell.

Not that the Dodgers are going to roll over — it’ll be all hands on deck for them with every pitcher except for Hyun-Jim Ryu available, you figure — but if they’re going to repeat as NL champs, they’re going to have to earn it either by bloodying Chacin’s nose early and neutralizing the threat of facing Hader and company with a lead, or by marching through the teeth of the Brewers bullpen and coming out alive on the other side.
NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Walker Buehler vs. Jhoulys Chacin
Breakdown:

The most important part of this breakdown — the stuff about the Brewers’ pen — has already been said and, I presume anyway, the starters here will have the shortest of leashes. Chacin’s will be longer, as he has not allowed a run over 10 and a third innings in his first two postseason starts, making him the Brewers’ defacto ace. Every inning he goes tonight makes things much, much harder for the Dodgers once he’s gone as it means Milwaukee will be able to rely more and more on Hader and Jeffress, so the Dodgers had best get to him early.

Buehler has come up weak so far this postseason, having allowed nine runs in 12 innings, including surrendering four runs on six hits over seven innings in Milwaukee’s Game 3 victory. Still, it’s not hard to remember how dominating he was in the second half of the season. If that Buehler shows up and can keep things close, we’ll have a ballgame. If L.A. finds itself in an early hole once again, theirs will be the tallest of orders.