Verlander vs. Sale next Sunday night?
Jim Leyland has used the Tigers’ recent rash of off-days to give Justin Verlander an extra day between starts for the last couple turns in the rotation. This stretch coming up is why.
They’re off next Monday before going to Kansas City and then hosting the White Sox, but Leyland confirmed yesterday he’ll start Verlander on his regular four days’ rest and pitch him Tuesday in KC, slotting him ahead of Anibal Sanchez in the pitching order. More importantly, that puts him in line to face the White Sox — twice.
The Tigers will open with Max Scherzer against the White Sox next Friday night, then Doug Fister on Saturday (if he’s healthy, or Drew Smyly if he’s not), then Verlander on Sunday night on ESPN. That series finale could be huge, if the White Sox keep their rotation in order, because Chris Sale would be in line to start for Chicago.
It would be a matchup of two AL Cy Young award candidates (not necessarily the two front-runners, the way David Price is pitching lately). It would also be another challenge for the Tigers lineup against a tough left-hander, something they could also get on Saturday against Francisco Liriano.
The Tigers are responsible for half of Sale’s four losses this year and eight of the 45 earned runs he has allowed. Five of those came over seven innings July 21 at Comerica Park, including a three-run home run from Brennan Boesch. He has gotten back into his high-strikeout form in August, including 13 strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Yankees on Wednesday in Chicago.
By shuffling the rotation, Verlander will also get two more starts against postseason contenders, facing the Angels in Anaheim and getting a rematch with the White Sox during the four-game series in Chicago in mid-September.