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The Detroit Tigers may have a new manager and a different pitcher defending a Cy Young award this year, but Justin Verlander is still the team’s ace. New manager Brad Ausmus said Monday that Verlander will get the Opening Day start for the seventh consecutive season.
Verlander and the AL Central champion Tigers will take on their division rivals, the Kansas City Royals, on March 31 at Comerica Park. The ace showed that he didn’t lose anything during the offseason, throwing five shutout innings in a Grapefruit League game Sunday, notes MLive.com.
Ausmus admitted that it was hard to pick Verlander over Scherzer and it’s a decision that any other manager would love to have to make. “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,” Ausmus told MLive.com.
Ausmus added that the fact that Verlander has started Opening Day the six previous years was a factor in the decision.
Verlander had an off-year by his standards in 2013. He had a 13-12 record and a 3.46 ERA, notes MLB.com. He was also spectacular during the postseason, only giving up one run in 23 innings.
Scherzer had a 21-3 record and a 2.90 ERA in his Cy Young-winning campaign.