It wasn’t his prettiest outing, but Tigers ace Justin Verlander became the first major league pitcher of the 2011 baseball season to reach the 20-win plateau in Saturday afternoon’s 6-4 victory over the Twins.
Verlander yielded eight hits and four runs, and at one point allowed back-to-back homers to light-hitting Twins reserves Luke Hughes and Jason Repko, but he eventually settled in. The 28-year-old right-hander finished the start with six strikeouts and three walks, throwing 76 of his 120 pitches for strikes.
Verlander is the first pitcher to win 20 games before the end of August since Curt Schilling accomplished the feat for the Diamondbacks in 2002. Verlander is now sporting a 20-5 record, 2.38 ERA and 0.90 WHIP through 29 starts this season. He also has 218 strikeouts in 215 2/3 innings, and has walked just 48 batters.
While Angels ace Jered Weaver deserves consideration, Verlander is the clear favorite for the American League Cy Young Award with around five weeks to go. Verlander could also draw some MVP consideration.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.
Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.
With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.