KANSAS CITY -- By all accounts, Max Scherzer has passed his final test to be cleared to pitch Wednesday's regular season finale against the Royals. The biggest hurdle left is whether the Tigers need the right-hander for it.
Scherzer threw all of his pitches on Monday afternoon without discomfort in the shoulder that had bothered him last week. He saved his top velocity for his last, answering manager Jim Leyland's caution that he won't use Scherzer if he's struggling to get velocity.
"The last pitch I threw, I threw as hard as I could," Scherzer said. "It felt good coming out of my hand."
As Leyland said of Scherzer's fastball, it'll be there if he needs it. The question left to be answered, of course, is whether they need Scherzer at all. That will depend on whether the Tigers win either of the next two games, or if the American League Central race is still in doubt heading into the season's final day.
If the Tigers clinch Monday or Tuesday, according to Leyland, Drew Smyly would start Wednesday in Scherzer's place, whether Scherzer feels fine or not. Still, the Tigers would have to work out a plan for getting Scherzer ready for a Division Series start, for which he expects to be at full strength.
If Scherzer has his way, that could involve pitching in some fashion on Wednesday.
"If we do get in the playoffs," Scherzer said, "I would like to get in a live game."