Sep 25, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (37) pitches against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago White Sox and the rest of the AL Central just got a little more equal with the news on Sunday night that Max Scherzer will no longer be a member of the Detroit Tigers.
The former AL Cy Young award winner has signed a seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals and now is the problem for the rest of the NL East for years to come.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote the following as he reported the free agent signing:
"“Perhaps even more important in this case, (Nationals GM Mike Rizzo) had a longstanding affinity for Scherzer’s ability, going back to selecting him No. 11 overall in the 2006 draft for the Arizona Diamondbacks out of the University of Missouri. Rizzo was scouting director of the Diamondbacks at the time.”"
With the Tigers no longer having Scherzer to send out to the mound every fifth day, does that make the Chicago White Sox the favorites to win the division, or are the Tigers still the front runners since they are the reigning four-time division champs?
Jun 17, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez (10) and center fielder Adam Eaton (1) celebrate after beating the San Francisco Giants 8-2 at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Maybe the Kansas City Royals are the favorites to win the division because they were the AL Champions in ’14, or maybe the Cleveland Indians are due to the fact they had a winning season last year? Remember, the Indians still have the reigning AL Cy Young award winner in Corey Kluber in their starting rotation.
If the Tigers stay pat, I don’t see them as the favorites in the division as spring training continues to get closer, even with the improvements they’ve made on the offensive side of their roster.
I say that because their starting rotation isn’t as good as it once was (that happens when a team loses a Cy Young award winner), and their bullpen (in my opinion) is still a liability. Remember how it imploded and cost them an early exit in the AL Divisional Series in ’14?
I have no doubt in my mind, just looking at the roster (and maybe with a little bias) the White Sox have the best pitching rotation right now compared to the other four teams in the AL Central.
I may be wrong, but a rotation with the likes of Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana (588 combined strikeouts) is a Top 3 of a rotation that will be tough to handle. Add to that a hopefully improved John Danks at No. 4 and a wildcard as the fifth starter (plus a closer in David Robertson) and that is a scary pitching staff to face day-in and day-out.
With the change of Scherzer headed to the Nationals, that one move really does make a huge difference in how at I look at the AL Central as we are 77 days away from Opening Day.
Granted, the Tigers could make another move in terms of starting pitching (or to their bullpen) that can change this way of thinking also, but as of this Monday morning I believe the White Sox improved in the AL Central with the departure of Scherzer to Washington.
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In other White Sox news:
• CSN Chicago says the White Sox have an elite pitching trio.
• Here are 12 deals that led to “Chicago’s baseball boom” according to a column on whitesox.com.
• A Chicago Sun-Times article says “Odds are White Sox better than Cubs,” and I agree.
• FanSided.com says the White Sox could be a “surprise team.”
In Twitter happenings, White Sox centerfielder Adam Eaton watched some sports and seemed to have some fun tweeting about it on Sunday: