Ausmus goes with Verlander for Game 2
The choice of Max Scherzer to start the AL Division Series opener was an easy one, Brad Ausmus acknowledged Tuesday. His choice to start Game 2 was a little tougher.
Brad Ausmus cited several secondary reasons why he opted for Justin Verlander over David Price. He did not cite a primary reason.
“There’s a lot of things that go into it,” Ausmus said. “You can look at it from any number of angles. You can look at it from postseason performance. You can look at it from how they pitched against the Orioles. You can look at it about these guys having tons of innings. Maybe the extra day of rest for David would be good. Pitch Verlander [in] Game 3, now you’re really stretching him out; he hadn’t pitched in a while. You could slice this up a lot of different ways.”
Asked if Game 5 was a reason, Ausmus said, “That was part of the thought process, but Max would be available for game five as well. So that decision will come later.”
For the year, Price has been a better pitcher on the road, but pitched two gems at Comerica Park over the final week, save for a bad ninth inning against the White Sox. Verlander is statistically a better pitcher at home, but shut down Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium in that clutch series a week and a half back.
If Scherzer is the guy to start Game 5, then this debate is kind of irrelevant, more of a home-road split kind of thing (Price has a 2.92 ERA on the road this year). Neither pitcher has lost at Camden Yards. Verlander has a lower batting average allowed there, while Price has pretty much the same rate of keeping the ball in the park (4 HR in 50 innings, compared with 5 HR in 57 innings for Verlander).
But then, Scherzer was in line to start Game of last year’s ALDS … until he pitched in relief in Game 4.
One difference this year, at least from the Scherzer-as-reliever standpoint, is the presence of Anibal Sanchez in the bullpen. But if there’s an extra-inning game somewhere along the line, or a rain delay, or another reason for an early exit, it’s going to be an interesting decision.