Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has made his decision on who the Opening Day starter will be, and his name isn’t Justin Verlander.
According to reports, pitcher David Price will be the starter for the Tigers on Opening Day when they host the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.
The Tigers acquired Price from the Tampa Bay Rays just minutes before the trade deadline in July in exchange for pitcher Drew Smyly and other prospects as well.
This move will end Verlander’s streak of Opening Day starts at seven, four away from tying Jack Morris’s record of 11 straight starts on the first day of the new season.
At 32 years old, Verlander is coming off his worst season as a Tiger yet, finishing last year with an ERA of 4.54, a record of 15-12 and only 159 strikeouts in 206 innings pitched.
Verlander has been a Tiger his whole career and is always a fan favorite, when he is pitching well obviously. For Ausmus though, he couldn’t have gone wrong with either choice. Verlander will be the second starter, and pitcher Anibal Sanchez will be the third man in the rotation.
If Ausmus would’ve gone with Verlander on Opening Day, there wouldn’t have been any argument questioning why he made the move.
For Price, he knows that he will have to be the man to lead the rotation, especially if he and the Tigers can agree on a long-term contract that can keep him in Detroit for possibly the rest of his career.
At the end of the day though, Ausmus felt that he was the best choice to start opening day.
“It’s a tough decision when you have two guys like that,” Ausmus told Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. “It wasn’t an easy decision. But looking at it from a baseball perspective, I thought that this was the decision.
Ausmus had to have been debating between two options: loyalty vs. quality. If he would’ve chosen Verlander, he would’ve been choosing loyalty to a player who has been nothing but loyal to the Tigers organization. However, choosing Price, he is going with quality.
Price is probably the better pitcher of the two, at least he has been for the past couple of seasons. If the Tigers make the playoffs and remain healthy, Verlander is the better option to go with in an elimination game outing.
Even though Price struggled early on in his Tigers career, he may be comfortable enough now to step up and prove he can be the guy in Detroit.