If that’s the case, it couldn’t come at a better time. The Tigers will need Verlander to be at his best regardless of where he is in the rotation for the postseason. Manager Jim Leyland probably hasn’t made up his mind yet and won’t until shortly after the Tigers clinch the AL Central title.
They took one step closer to that with Friday’s 6-3 win over the Kansas City Royals to cut their magic number to 10. A three-game winning streak has the Tigers back on track and seemingly in control of their own destiny.
But Verlander, who improved his record to 13-11 by going 6.2 innings against the Royals, is giving indication he might be back to his old self. That’s why Leyland might be more inclined to go with the former American League Cy Young award winner and MVP as his No. 1 guy on the mound for the playoffs.
For some reason, Verlander had been struggling against the Royals. He was 0-3 against them in his last five starts even though he has entered the season with a 15-2 record against Kansas City. Verlander also seems to have more command of pitches as his seven strikeouts would indicate. Throughout most of the season, he was struggling to catch batters off-stride the way he has all of his career.
If he can get back in the groove and stay there for the rest of the season, Verlander will leave no doubt that he’s still No. 1 on the mound for the Tigers.
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