Justin Verlander usually doesn’t struggle against the Kansas City Royals, but this year has been quite different.
Verlander has lost his last three starts against the Royals. He has yet to register a win in five starts against them this season. Before this season started, Verlander had a 15-2 record against the Royals, but they’ve been able to get to him this season.
Leading the way for the Royals has been Billy Butler, who has 28 hits and 10 RBIs against Verlander in his career. Salvador Perez has also done a solid job against the Detroit Tigers right-hander. Perez has seven RBIs and six hits in just 18 at-bats against him.
In the past, Verlander seemed to cruise through the Royals line up with ease, but the Royals’ hitters have been making things tougher for Verlander. Verlander has allowed a home run in each of his last three starts against the Royals, which is something he used to keep in check. Prior to this season, Verlander had only allowed five home runs to current Royals’ hitters, so allowing one in each of his last three starts is a slight increase.
Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Perez have all gone yard against him this season, so it’s not like Verlander is only struggling with just one or two of the Royals’ hitters.
Friday will most likely be Verlander’s last chance to get a win against the team he used to own. The Royals will send Bruce Chen to the mound, and he’s has done a better job of working his way through the Tigers’ lineup lately. Verlander certainly won’t want to finish the season against the Tigers’ division rivals without registering a win against them, so expect to see a fired-up version of the former MVP Friday night.