Tigers put their faith in Justin Verlander for Game 5

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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.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.