DETROIT -- Max Scherzer still thinks back to those Tigers teams from the start of this decade, a team that won four consecutive American League Central crowns from 2011-14.
That talented roster included Scherzer and a few more players who will almost certainly have their names engraved in Cooperstown after their careers conclude in Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, as well as perennial All-Stars like Prince Fielder, J.D. Martinez, Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter and Ian Kinsler, among others. And yet, the Tigers never won a World Series with that group, making it to just one Fall Classic in 2012, when they were swept by the Giants.
It’s something that still stings Scherzer, even as he sat in the visitor’s dugout at Comerica Park on Friday before Washington's 3-1 win over Detroit, his first visit back to his old home ballpark since he left the Tigers as a free agent after the 2014 season and signed with the Nationals.
“It feels like a big regret that we weren't able to deliver a World Series championship here,” Scherzer said. “I’ve been talking with Anibal [Sanchez] about it. We all kick ourselves, like, 'How did we not win the World Series while we were here?' The teams that we had here, especially in that three-year run between '12, '13, '14. I mean, you play the games of 'What if?' still to this day. That's what also keeps me motivated.”
Scherzer acknowledged how strange it felt to return to Comerica Park, five seasons removed from the last time that he pitched here. He is slated to start Sunday afternoon’s series finale, matching up against former National Jordan Zimmermann, in a rematch of the game where Scherzer struck out 20 back in May 2016.
Scherzer, who spent five seasons in Detroit, did not want to speculate as to what kind of emotions he would feel returning to the mound in Detroit once again, but said that he did not feel any extra motivation. He spoke glowingly of his time with the Tigers and the city where he first blossomed into a star, winning his first Cy Young Award in 2013. Even though he was finding his groove then, Scherzer reflected on how much of a different pitcher he is now compared to then.
“In a lot of different ways,” Scherzer said. “I strive to get better every single year. 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 that have come through in my time in Washington, I’ve continued to grow as well. I’m very fortunate to have good teammates, good coaches in Washington, and the process is neverending.”