ARLINGTON -- When Detroit skipper Jim Leyland announced his revised rotation plans for the American League Championship Series, at some points, he sounded like he was trying to convince himself that slotting Max Scherzer for a Game 2 start was trustworthy.
Scherzer had pitched in relief against the Yankees in the decisive Game 5 of the Division Series, working on three days' rest after his Game 2 assignment. But the right-hander, who threw 32 pitches spread across 1 1/3 innings of the finale against New York, was selling that he was good to go. Leyland bought it.
"I didn't think we were going to be able to [bring Scherzer back for Game 2], to be honest with you, but he convinced me," Leyland had said.
"No. 1, he doesn't want to hurt himself. No. 2, he doesn't want to hurt the team. He's raring and ready to go and healthy."
And, as weather patterns would have it, Scherzer will be better rested than originally anticipated. Due to the postponement of ALCS Game 2 to Monday afternoon, Scherzer will be trying to square the ALCS at one game apiece with the Texas Rangers on three days' rest -- quite more manageable than two. Texas took the opener on Saturday, 3-2.
Leyland had consented to moving Scherzer up to Game 2 -- and flipping Rick Porcello, who tossed two perfect innings in relief of Justin Verlander in Game 1 against the Rangers into the Game 4 start.
Scherzer stated his case after playing a little catch while the Tigers were working out Friday. It was only the type of catch fathers and sons might have on the front lawn. This one, however, altered the course of the ALCS.
"I just got out to 90 feet, and when I wanted to put a little more oomph on the ball, I could," Scherzer explained. "My arm wasn't sore at all, and I thought that was a pretty good sign. I know my arm pretty good at this point of the year, and I could make that determination that I could be 100 percent."
Key stat: Gave up one run in 7 1/3 innings in ALDS
Key stat: Tied for AL lead in shutouts (4)
At Rangers Ballpark
2011: 1 GS, 1-0, 9.00 Career: 2 GS, 1-0, 6.00
2011: 16 GS, 8-2, 4.69 Career: 32 GS, 16-9, 5.24
Against this opponent
2011: 3 GS, 1-0, 4.76 Career: 6 GS, 3-0, 3.41
2011: N/A Career: 1 GS, 0-0, 2.25
Loves to face: Elvis Andrus (2-for-15) Hates to face: Adrian Beltre (4-for-11)
Loves to face: Wilson Betemit (1-for-6) Hates to face: Victor Martinez (1-for-3)
Why he'll win: Held righties to .262 average this year
Why he'll win: Has won six of last seven starts (incl. postseason)
Pitcher beware: Gave up third-most homers in AL (29)
Pitcher beware: Left-handers hit .272 off him this year
Bottom line: Continue postseason success
Bottom line: Keep rolling
So he quickly looped in his manager.
"I spent a lot of time with Scherzer. He felt great," Leyland said. "He convinced me. Max ... he's up front with everything. He never would mislead me in any way, shape or form.
"So I jumped the gun a little bit in giving the rotation. I apologize for that."
Leyland's apology went to the media, facetious as it was. He needn't have worried about them. The Rangers and their fans may eventually want an apology more.
Scherzer, with three full Major League seasons in his file, hasn't been around long enough to have "baseball cousins" in the true sense of the term: A team you pretty much have your way with. But the Rangers come close.
Texas is the only team against which he has made at least six starts, without losing any of them. He is 3-0 against the Rangers, and also started three of Detroit's six wins over them this year, although getting the decision only once.
Admittedly, Verlander's name never came up in Ron Washington's media session prior to Game 1. Still, in discussing the Detroit rotation, the Texas manager dropped a "nasty" only on Scherzer.
"What an arm ... some of those pitches he threw those Yankees in that one inning [on Thursday] were nasty," Washington said. "He doesn't throw anything straight and for some reason when he faces us, he finds that strike zone more consistently."
Perhaps Washington was instinctively recalling a start Scherzer made against his club on June 23, 2009 -- for the D-backs, in an Interleague game at Chase Field. On that occasion, Scherzer delivered 119 pitches -- 82 of them strikes.
With an expectation of such a high percentage of pitches being around the plate, a team might adopt a more aggressive approach than its norm. You can't afford patience to run up a pitch count if three out of four are strikes.
But the Rangers normally are aggressive hitters, and Scherzer's changeup and breaking pitch could exploit that aggression.
"He can get you swinging at balls out of the zone. He has that much movement," Washington said. "If you don't get him [swing on his pitches] in the zone, he's at his best. I hope if he throws those same pitches he was making against the Yankees, we lay off him and get him behind in the count. Then he has to throw the ball over the plate."
The game plan can work against Scherzer: That is how he wound up allowing 29 homers. Only the Rangers' Colby Lewis (35) and the Yankees' A.J. Burnett (31) served up more in the AL.
But more than half (15) of those long balls were solo shots. Keeping guys off the bases can be a bigger priority than keeping balls in the park.
The biggest concern now, obviously, is keeping the team in October. Scherzer appreciates not having to wait four more days for that opportunity, and feels his body is up for it.
No, he knows his body is up for it.
"When the postseason came around, it was the best I felt all year with my stuff," Scherzer said. "To be able to go out there and help the team in must-win games, this is as good as it gets."
Tom Singer is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow @Tom_Singer on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.