Note that this is GAME 2 of a doubleheader between the Tigers and Twins. Last night was rained out, so they’re going to play two in a day in Minnesota. These are a couple of monster sized games for the Tigers, who are currently a game back of the Orioles for the final wildcard. A strong showing today could make things look even better. The Tigers will turn to Justin Verlander in the nightcap, a guy they have trusted to come up big in a big spot. Verlander has turned back the clocks in 2016 is having one of the best seasons of his career. He’s answered the critics who said he is nothing more than a washed up player past his prime.
Verlander has done a great job, pulling his team into contention this season in the American League Central. If the Tigers don’t make the postseason, it’s not because he didn’t do his part. There were some rumblings that the Tigers paid too much to resign him to a seven-year $180 million contract. But in this day and age, it isn’t the worst deal the Tigers could have made for a Cy Young winner with multiple no-hitters on his resume. Whether it’s been an intervention from his wife Kate Upton, or what have you, JV is not pitching like a washed up has been, that much is for sure.
Ervin Santana has had to face similar criticism, and he’s answered the call just like Verlander has done. Santana has staged an impressive 2016 campaign, in an otherwise wasted season for the team. A postseason contender would have loved him in their pitching rotation. It may have been in the Twins’ best interest to trade him at the deadline to pick up some pieces for the future. Because while Santana has been strong, he is not going to be in future plans for the Twins. Nevertheless, Santana will look to stifle the Tigers’ efforts to reach the postseason tonight.
Detroit Tigers vs. Minnesota Twins
Justin Verlander (14-8, 3.22 ERA) vs Ervin Santana (7-10, 3.38 ERA)
Believe it or not, Verlander opened the first month of the season up to boos at home. He was atrocious, getting belted left and right, with it looking like his career was in the toilet. However, as you can see, the first few weeks of the MLB schedule isn’t the best barometer to base a whole season from. With this said, it makes his numbers even more impressive. Verlander was boasting an ERA around 5.00 near the start of May, and now he’s brought it down to 3.22. If the boos motivated him to play better, they certainly helped him out.
You would have to go all the way back to June 26th to find the last bad start for Verlander. Since then he hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs per start. Further, he has given up 3 runs just twice during that stretch. That is about as impressive as you’re going to find. Conversely, on the other side, Santana has paced the Twins with quality work, including a 2.00 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in his last three starts.
Santana just recently shut the Tigers down, allowing only 1 run in 5 innings on the 12th. Verlander’s last start against the Twins came on July 20th, an impressive outing that saw him give up 1 run across 8 innings. I see the Tigers having an advantage in the sense of them just seeing Santana pitch. It can be easy to stop a powerful offense down one time, but twice in as many as ten days can be difficult. Tigers take this one and bolster their postseason resume on Thursday night.
PICK: TIGERS TO WIN -140