ALDS rotation set: Scherzer to start Game 1

The mystery is settled: Max Scherzer will start Friday’s ALDS opener in Oakland, setting the rotation in order for the series. Justin Verlander will start Game 2, followed by Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister in Detroit.

Scherzer would start Game 5 if the series goes the distance.

“We’ve been talking about it ever since we clinched, tossing it around,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We just decided it in the last couple days.”

Pitching coach Jeff Jones notified the starters on Sunday in Miami.

“I truly feel like I could start any one of my guys [in the opener] and feel comfortable,” Leyland said.

That said, the first two games lend themselves to Scherzer and Verlander, both of whom have been stronger on the road this season, both of whom have a history of strong starts in tough environments. Scherzer went 12-1 at home, but his ERA was lower on the road (2.28) than at Comerica Park (3.55). Nearly all of his pure pitching stats were stronger away from Detroit, for that matter.

Scherzer pitched 5 1/3 innings in Oakland in Game 4 of last year’s ALDS, allowing an unearned run on three hits and striking out eight batters. Verlander, of course, came back the next night and tossed a complete-game shutout.

Verlander’s two outings last week at Minnesota at Miami further his home/road split. He’s 7-5 with a 3.19 ERA away from Detroit, compared with 6-7 with a 3.73 ERA at Comerica Park.


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