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.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.