Detroit Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander is all but guaranteed to win the American League Cy Young Award and is a legitimate contender to be the AL MVP. On Thursday night the Tigers face the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the American League Division Series and their ace will not be on the mound.
Verlander threw eight innings in Game 3, and threw 120 pitches. Though he didn’t have his best stuff, he got the win. Verlander gave up four runs on six hits, while striking out 11 and walking three.
The 28-year-old Old Dominion product also pitched one inning in what was supposed to be a much-ballyhooed showdown with C.C. Sabathia in Game 1. That contest ended up being suspended after the first frame and resumed the next day with new guys on the mound. Verlander threw 25 pitches (plus warm-up tosses) in the opening game of the series, meaning his arm has a bit of wear on him in just over a week.
With Verlander, Tuesday’s starter Rick Porcello and Al Alburquerque all unavailable, Doug Fister – who took over for Verlander in Game 2 – will get the start on Thursday. While he’s certainly not an ace, Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA after being acquired from the Seattle Mariners before the trade deadline. He will face Yankees rookie Ivan Nova in the decisive game.
Fister and Nova have been excellent this season but their matchup doesn’t quite have the sizzle of Verlander vs. Sabathia.