The Tigers named Justin Verlander as their Opening Day starter on Monday. When he takes the mound it will be his seventh consecutive Opening Day start, a feat matched in the organization by only Jack Morris. 2013 Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer will be the first reigning Cy Young since Johan Santana in 2005 not to start Opening Day, according to researcher James Smyth.
After Justin Verlander had core repair surgery following an offseason training injury, there was some speculation he may not be ready for the season in time to start. Verlander being Verlander put that to rest by rehabbing and working to get himself into condition to be ready to pitch on Opening Day. In the past Ausmus said he'd like to see Verlander get up to 100 pitches. That seems to be the case.
Some wondered how you could deny a reigning Cy Young winner an Opening Day start, but that's a pretty good problem to have if you're Ausmus. Who do you pick? The former league MVP who's the pitching face of your franchise, the reigning CY or the guy whose stats were good enough to win the CY if he hadn't missed a few weeks due to injury? Ultimately though, it comes down to this: If Verlander is healthy enough to take the ball in Game 1, you give it to him. For as many years as he's in Detroit, that will almost certainly be the case.
That's no knock on Scherzer, an excellent pitcher who has looked great this spring. It's just an acknowledgment of fact.