Max Scherzer is the reigning American League Cy Young winner, but he won’t be starting for the Tigers until the second game of the season. Rookie manager Brad Ausmus has decided on Justin Verlander as the Opening Day starter.
No surprise, really. As great as Scherzer was last season–going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 214 innings–Verlander has started each of the past six Opening Days for the Tigers and he’s got a Cy Young of his own from three years ago (plus a runner-up finish in 2012).
As soon as Verlander showed that he’s recovered from January surgery to repair a core muscle the choice was probably an easy one for Ausmus. And really instead of debating whether Verlander or Scherzer ought to be the one getting the ball in the season opener Tigers fans should probably just enjoy having a rotation with two Cy Young winners AND the reigning ERA champion (Anibal Sanchez) in the third spot.
By the way, last season Scherzer didn’t start for the Tigers until Game 5, following Verlander, Sanchez, Rick Porcello, and Doug Fister in the rotation.
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.