Had it been just a minor one-for-one trade, it still would have seemed huge to Max Scherzer on Dec. 9, 2009. "When anybody gets traded, it's a big deal," said Scherzer, who is to make his first postseason start Sunday, which also will be a big deal.
It is just the sort of responsibility that the Tigers envisioned for the former first-round draft pick when they acquired him in a major three-team trade that has helped land all three teams in the playoffs this season.
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"It's very rare that everybody involved in a three-way trade gets a chance to gloat about it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Based on 2011, the Yankees and Diamondbacks have more about which to gloat. Curtis Granderson (41 homers) is an American League MVP candidate for the Yankees and Ian Kennedy (21-4) has been in the conversation about the Cy Young Award for the D-backs.
As Leyland said about Scherzer (15-9, 4.43 ERA): "He's got a huge upside. There's no question about that. He can throw the ball 97 miles an hour. He has a very deceptive changeup. He's very young. We think he has a bright, bright future."
The future moved up a day because the ALDS schedule changed with the suspension of Game 1 Friday night. Instead of starting Game 3 in Detroit Mondaynight, he will start Game 2 at Yankee Stadium Sunday.
"You take the ballpark out of it. I'm more worried about their lineup," Scherzer said. "You just have to adjust. This is baseball. We didn't even know we were going to be coming here until two days ago. To be pitching on Sunday, my normal turn, the fifth day, it doesn't change what goes in my preparation."
He added that he has become a more complete pitcher, with a changeup and slider to go with his fastball, since that life-changing day the December before last. "I just remember the only way I could find out I was getting traded was to read about it online," he said.
No, Scherzer does not take a special interest in seeing how Granderson and Kennedy are doing with their teams. But Leyland insists the Tigers are as happy as the other teams are. "I think everybody was on the up-and-up, all three teams. It was done very classy," Leyland said. "It worked out well for everybody. That's very fortunate, and very unusual, probably."