Royals-Tigers preview

BY foxsports • August 17, 2016

DETROIT -- Justin Verlander habitually gives the Kansas City Royals fits. Danny Duffy has done that to everyone over the past three months.

Their matchup at Comerica Park on Tuesday, when the Detroit Tigers play host to the Royals, has all the makings of a stellar pitching duel.

Verlander (12-6, 3.42 ERA) has re-established himself as the Tigers' ace, and he enters his 25th start of the season in top form. He has recorded six consecutive quality outings, including a seven-inning performance at Seattle on Wednesday when he held the Mariners to one run.

Matched against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez that night, Verlander wound up with a no-decision. Verlander, who hasn't lost since June 26 against the Cleveland Indians, could face a similar situation on Tuesday.

"Most pitchers, when their counterpart is well-known or one of the better pitchers in the league, it gives you a little more adrenaline," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "I think that probably happened when Verlander and Felix pitched against each other."

Verlander ranks second in the America League in strikeouts with 170 and fourth in opponents' batting average at .216.

The Royals know all too well how effective Verlander can be. He has 22 career wins against them, the most by an active pitcher. He also won both of his starts against Kansas City this season while notching 17 strikeouts.

Duffy isn't focused on the pitching matchup.

"It's fun competing against those guys in general," Duffy said. "I don't look at who I'm going up against because I don't have to get him out."

Duffy (9-1, 2.82 ERA) was moved into the rotation on May 15 and has emerged as the Royals' most reliable arm. He is 9-1 with a 2.79 ERA as a starter, including his current eight-game winning streak. He recorded his first career complete game in his last start against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

"I've been really simplified with everything. It sounds super boring, but that's just kind of where I'm at," he said. "Trust is crucial. Trusting your stuff and trusting who's behind you. I have all of that. I trust my stuff, and I trust my boys."

Duffy is 4-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 career outings against Detroit, including four appearances this season.

"He's always had great stuff, and he seems to have pitched well against us for the most part," Ausmus said. "The big thing is he's really throwing strikes now. He's always had a real good fastball, but he's throwing strikes and he's become what a lot of people thought he would be, a dominant left-handed starter."

Ausmus' club has been hit hard by injuries recently, and another one cropped up to a premier player on Monday. First baseman Miguel Cabrera is out of the lineup Tuesday after he left the Tigers' 3-1 loss to the Royals prior to the fifth inning with a left biceps strain. He was injured reaching for an errant throw by starting pitcher Daniel Norris in the first inning.

Ausmus considers the injury minor and with Jarrod Saltalamacchia starting Tuesday, Cabrera is officially "day to day." Detroit already has three starting position players on the disabled list -- center fielder Cameron Maybin, third baseman Nick Castellanos and shortstop Jose Iglesias.



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