RHP JUSTIN VERLANDER
With apologies to Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who just can’t seem to get any respect, considering all the hullabaloo with the national media pumping up Angels rookie Mike Trout for AL MVP honors and now this … but, the nod has to go to the game’s most dominant pitcher.
Yeah, Verlander won’t repeat as the league’s Cy Young winner. That honor likely will go to Rays lefty David Price or Angels righty Jered Weaver, both of whom won 20 games. But there is little doubt who most would choose to run out to the hill if an entire season depended on it, and Tigers manager Jim Leyland is the one lucky enough to have that option at his disposal.
In 33 starts this season, the 6-5, 225-pound righty posted a 17-8 mark with a 2.64 ERA and a major-league best 239 strikeouts. With stupefying, eye-popping stuff and an intensity to match, Verlander gives Detroit what would appear to the ultimate ace in the hole.
Considering how hot Oakland is, the Tigers will need it, and need it to play just right Saturday if it hopes to advance beyond the team’s best-of-five AL Division Series.
Verlander is on fire of late, too. In his last four games, the big fella is 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 28 innings. Admittedly, the postseason has been a bugaboo for him. In eight starts, he’s 3-3 with a 5.57 ERA.
Obviously, any effort similar to those numbers won’t fly against Oakland. He is 2-0 in two starts against the A’s this season with a 0.69 ERA.