With the Tigers burning their likely Cy Young winner Max Scherzer in relief on Tuesday, Justin Verlander will get the nod on four days’ rest in Thursday’s Game 5 against the A’s.
That Verlander was so exceptional in Game 2 against the A’s surely played into Jim Leyland using Scherzer in the seventh and eighth innings today. Verlander struck out 11 in seven scoreless innings in that one, though the Tigers went on to lose 1-0 anyway. Dating back to the regular season, Verlander has pitched 20 scoreless innings with a 33/5 K/BB ratio in his last three starts.
Lifetime, Verlander is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four postseason starts against the A’s. Four of the five runs he allowed came in the first of those starts back in 2006. Overall, Verlander is 6-3 with a 3.84 ERA in the postseason.
Verlander will be facing Bartolo Colon, who is 2-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 10 starts in the postseason. Colon took the loss to Scherzer in Game 1 after giving up three runs (all coming in the first) in his six innings of work.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.