KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Max Scherzer’s shoulder appears to be fine. His right ankle is another issue.
The Tigers’ right-hander will miss his start in the regular-season finale in Kansas City after twisting it during the on-field celebration of Detroit’s AL Central title Monday night.
Manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday that someone apparently stepped on Scherzer after the Tigers had streamed out of the dugout and were jumping into a joyous pile behind the pitcher’s mound.
The Tigers had just wrapped up the division title with a 6-3 victory over the Royals, giving them back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since the 1934-35 seasons.
“This is a slightly twisted ankle. You know, swollen, but it doesn’t appear to be serious,” Leyland said. “But it’s obviously serious enough that he won’t pitch tomorrow.”
What that means for the start of the playoffs Saturday is another matter.
Scherzer was going to pitch five innings against the Royals to test out his sore right shoulder, which caused him to miss his last scheduled start. Leyland wasn’t sure who would start in his place, though he did say Drew Smyly would only pitch one inning.
“I wanted to tell you exactly how it happened so there wouldn’t be any speculation about his arm or anything,” said Leyland, who called the team’s regular beat writers back into his office shortly before batting practice. “This is the scenario we have right now.”
Leyland said that Scherzer, one of the American League’s best pitchers down the stretch, threw off flat ground and “the ball was just flying out of his hand.”
But throwing off a mound is another matter, and it’s unclear when Scherzer will be able to give that a try.
Detroit will take Thursday off before holding a workout Friday at Comerica Park.
“His arm felt great today,” Leyland said.
Reigning Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander is scheduled to pitch the postseason opener, though the opponent has yet to be determined. Leyland wouldn’t say what he’s thinking beyond that, and now with Scherzer’s status in question, he may have to reevaluate his rotation.
Scherzer is 16-7 with a 3.82 ERA and 228 strikeouts this season.
“We’re used to make adjustments on the fly,” Leyland said. “Don’t make this sound like an emergency, because it’s not, but we do have to rethink some things.”