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  W: M. Scherzer (8-5)   L: J. Jiménez (2-6)   S: S. Doolittle (18)
10:10 AM PT11:10 AM MT12:10 PM CT1:10 PM ET13:10 ET17:10 GMT1:10 10:10 AM MST12:10 PM EST12:40 PM VEN21:10 UAE12:10 PM CT, June 30, 2019
Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan  Attendance: 21,052

Tigers get a look at Scherzer -- and what might have been

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

One of the most regrettable decisions the Detroit Tigers made in recent years was not doing more in an effort to re-sign Max Scherzer.

Late owner Mike Ilitch drew a hard line during Scherzer's walk year when the right-hander turned down an offer reportedly worth $144 million. The Washington Nationals swooped in and gave Scherzer a seven-year, $210 million deal following the 2014 season.

The pitching-starved Tigers will face Scherzer for the second time since his departure on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series in Detroit. The Tigers snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 7-5 win over the Nationals on Saturday.

Scherzer had an 82-35 record and 3.52 ERA with the Tigers from 2010-14. In the lead-up to Sunday, Scherzer told members of the media that he's even better now.

"I strive to get better every single year," Scherzer said. "As I've gone on to Washington, I've continued to add to my arsenal, continued to work with our coaches and our catchers. The different guys who've come through my time in Washington have continued to grow, as well."

The 34-year-old has the evidence to back it up -- a 75-37 record and 2.68 ERA with the Nats, along with two Cy Young Awards to go with the one he won in Detroit.

He's 7-5 with a 2.52 ERA in 17 starts this season and has dazzled observers with his grit. After breaking his nose during a batting-practice bunt attempt earlier this month, he's held Philadelphia scoreless in seven innings and Miami to one run in eight innings while piling up a combined 20 strikeouts.

The Tigers can now only wonder what might have been if Ilitch, who handed out some bad long-term contracts in pursuit of a world championship, retained Scherzer.

"I didn't feel slighted. That stuff just all takes care of itself," Scherzer said. "I don't hold any grudges or anything like. When I look back on my time in Detroit, I have great memories here and great friends."

Scherzer regrets that the Tigers didn't celebrate a championship during his time there. He's intent on getting that point with the Nats.

"You do have to kind of see it as a failure in some ways, because that's what keeps you motivated," he said. "That's what motivates me to push myself every single day to try to win a World Series. That's what I play the game for. That's what keeps me going."

He's pitched against the Tigers twice in his career -- once during his rookie year in 2008 with Arizona and a memorable outing in 2016 in Washington. He recorded 20 strikeouts in that complete-game victory three years ago.

"I had a lot of guys with the flu when he was pitching," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire quipped to The Detroit News. "They come in a little sick with Scherzeritis. It was never an easy test with any of those guys they had pitching. Scherzer is like a lightning bolt. His stuff is electric."

The Tigers will counter Sunday with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, a former National who has been a bust since signing a five-year, $110 million contract prior to the 2016 season.

Zimmermann is 0-5 with a 5.95 ERA this season. He's pitched twice since recovering from an injury to his pitching elbow, including a five-inning outing on Tuesday when he gave up three runs on nine hits to Texas.

He's 24-33 with a 5.31 ERA since joining the Tigers. He's pitched once against his former team, in 2016, and took a loss despite giving up three runs in seven innings.

--Field Level Media

Updated June 30, 2019

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