The first reaction Max Scherzer had when asked about his curveball was a face that looked like a secret had gotten out.Go ahead. Read the rest.
"Are we finally announcing it?" he asked with a smile. "I've been trying to keep it down."
Scherzer did a pretty good job; nobody had mentioned it for more than a month until this week. He had mixed it so well with his slider that it just never became obvious.
It was almost as well-kept of a secret as the pitching display Scherzer has put on for the better part of three months. That's becoming impossible to hide now, too.
Somewhere along the line during Justin Verlander's follow-up to his American League MVP Award season, the Tigers got another ace. He's the same pitcher who spent the previous two years trying to emerge from Verlander's shadow.
♦ Fatigue to blame for Kinsler's struggles? (mlb.com)
Kinsler has been dealing with a sprained ankle for the past two years that has never felt right, and Nelson Cruz still deals with hamstring and quad issues on a daily basis, although they haven't forced him out of the lineup. You can also see what has happened to the pitching staff.♦ Yost continues to push young bullpen (mlb.com)
All of this is part of what manager Ron Washington was referring to last week when he called this the Rangers' "toughest season." The Phillies appear to be a team that was physically beaten down the past few years after their extended postseason runs.
Kinsler has been outstanding in the playoffs in the past two years. The test will be if he and his teammates will be ready to raise the level of their game when that time comes. But it is also true that the division is not yet won. Far from it.
As teams across baseball shut down young arms in the season's final month, Yost said there's no such plan for his bullpen crew. Collins (22 years old), Herrera (22), Crow (25) and Holland (26) are all in their first or second full Major League seasons.
"Like any manager, you worry about their health and giving them too much of a workload early. But we are into September," Yost said. "It's all part of them learning how to pitch into September, too, in big games. So yeah, there's going to be times where you're going to be a little fatigued. So what? You've got to get after it."
Yost said getting the experience of pitching in September is key for a young pitcher's maturation. During his nine-year managerial career, Yost has heard pitchers complain about arm soreness late in the season.
"And then they realize, 'Hey, I can pitch through that and I can pitch through that effectively,'" Yost said.