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Verlander covets World Series title over Cy Young

Tony Paul
The Detroit News


Detroit — Justin Verlander has enough personal trophies, including rookie of the year, Cy Young and MVP plaques.

Justin Verlander

He's still missing the biggest prize, however.

"It would mean a lot more to win a World Series than to win a Cy Young again," Verlander said Wednesday, following his latest start in a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Verlander is the one player who remains from the transition from bad Tigers baseball (2005) to good Tigers baseball (2006), and has pitched in the franchise's last five postseason trips.

Still, given two cracks at a World Series (2006, 2012), Verlander and the Tigers have come up empty.

So, you get why the World Series is front and center.

That said, Verlander's revival can't be ignored. On Wednesday, he threw his 10th consecutive quality start (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs), matching his career-best, set in 2011, when he won the Cy Young and MVP awards.

He is 14-7 with a 3.30 ERA and a 0.995 WHIP, his best mark since 2011. His hits-per-nine-innings is at 6.8, also his best since 2011. He's struck out 198 batters in 188 innings, the first time he's averaged more than one an inning since 2012, when he finished a close runner-up to future teammate David Price in the Cy Young voting.

Bovada on Wednesday listed Verlander with 12-to-1 odds to win the Cy Young. That doesn't make him the favorite — he's behind six others, including the likes of leader Cole Hamels (2-1), Wednesday's foe Chris Sale (3-1) and former teammate Rick Porcello (8-1) — but he's squarely in the mix. That still means a lot to him, even if there are bigger goals for the 33-year-old in his 12th big-league season.

"To be even in the topic of discussion, especially after the last couple years," said Verlander, "I don't think anybody foresaw that except for me.

"A lot of hard work, a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that nobody sees.

"It's nice to be healthy."

If Verlander were to win a second Cy Young this season, he'd have the fifth-longest gap between Cy Youngs among the multiple winners, following Roy Halladay (2003, '10), Tom Glavine (1991, '98), Roger Clemens (1991, '97) and Gaylord Perry (1972, '78).

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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ON-DECK: ROYALS

Series: Three games, Friday-Sunday, Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

First pitch: 8:15 Friday, 7:15 Saturday, 2:15 Sunday

TV/radio: Friday, Sunday on FSD; Saturday on FS1/all three games on 97.1

Seriesprobables: Friday — RHP Anibal Sanchez (7-13, 5.92) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (11-2, 3.01); Saturday -- RHP Michael Fulmer (10-5, 2.69) vs. RHP Yordano Ventura (9-9, 4.33); Sunday — LHP Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.86) vs. RHP Dillon Gee (6-7, 4.37)

SCOUTING REPORT

Sanchez, Tigers: He's definitely been better lately, which is to say he's at least been given the Tigers a shot to win his starts. He still struggles the third time through the order. Fortunately, the bullpen is rested; the leash must be short.

Duffy, Royals: He was rocked in his last start, against the Red Sox, but for the most part, he's been a blessing since joining the rotation, with the Royals winning 16 of his 20 starts. He has 128 strikeouts in 125⅔ innings over that span.