Detroit, MI, United States (4E Sports) – Former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander will make his seventh straight Opening Day start Monday for the Detroit Tigers, according to manager Brad Ausmus.
Verlander, also a former league MVP, will take the mound March 31 when the Tigers host the Kansas City Royals.
Ausmus said the right-hander’s streak factored into his decision but acknowledged it was difficult to bypass reigning American League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer for the honor.
“It’s a decision that 29 other managers would like to have: choosing between two former Cy Young Award winners,” said Ausmus, who is entering his first year as a big league manager.
“It’s a very difficult decision because Max was the best pitcher in the league last year, and there’s a very legitimate argument that he should get that opportunity to pitch Opening Day,” he added.
Verlander, who had core-muscle repair surgery Jan. 9, was dominant in his second spring start Sunday, allowing one hit, one walk and striking out four against the Washington Nationals. He has pitched 8 2/3 shutout innings in his two Grapefruit League starts.
“I’m always grateful to pitch on Opening Day,” Verlander said. “I know what the day means to Tigers fans. It is like a holiday and I never take it for granted.”