DETROIT – One of the two best starting pitchers in recent Detroit Tigers history -- Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer -- will win the World Series this season.
Verlander is back in the World Series after winning his first title with the Houston Astros in 2017. The 36-year-old is among the most decorated Tigers pitchers ever, winning 183 games with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 2,373 strikeouts in 2,511 innings wearing the Old English D.
Verlander has gotten even better since joining the Astros, posting a 2.45 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 73 games. Not only did he win his first title in Houston, he also threw his first no-hitter with his new team this season.
With 300 strikeouts in 223 innings, a 2.58 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in 34 starts this season, Verlander is among the leading candidates for the American League Cy Young Award.
He hasn't been quite as dominant in the postseason. After throwing seven shutout innings against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the ALDS, Verlander has allowed 10 runs in 17.1 innings. In his most recent outing, he settled down to give the Astros seven solid innings after a four-run first inning by the New York Yankees.
Tigers fans love Verlander for the 13 seasons he spent in Detroit. When he was traded to the Astros, most of the city's baseball fans rooted for him to get a World Series ring.
They probably didn't anticipate his move going this well, though.
Since winning the World Series, Verlander has made two All-Star games and will at worst finish second in Cy Young voting for the second-straight year.
Remember when Verlander won the MVP with the Tigers in 2011? He's been more dominant each of the last two seasons in Houston than he was that season, despite being in his mid-30s.
He could finish the season with two World Series rings, a Cy Young Award and a no-hitter in his Astros career. There's no sign of him slowing down, either.
Scherzer's ties to the Tigers aren't nearly as strong because he wasn't brought up through the organization and spent only five seasons in Detroit.
But his ascent to one of the elite pitchers in the game provides a little extra distress to Tigers fans who have had to watch the Jordan Zimmermann saga play out. The Washington Nationals certainly got the best of that proverbial free agent pitcher swap.
Scherzer has won two Cy Young awards in Washington and finished top five in each of his four seasons so far. While he battled some injuries in 2019, he was still one of the best pitchers in the National League.
Scherzer has been to the postseason twice previously in Washington, losing in the first round in 2016 and 2017. This is his first World Series appearance since 2012, when the Tigers lost to the San Francisco Giants.
Scherzer allowed three runs in 6.1 innings while striking out eight batters in Game 4 of the 2012 World Series.
Despite a rough first inning in the wild card game, Scherzer has been great in this year's postseason, allowing just four earned runs in 20 innings while striking out 27 batters. Washington has won all three of his starts, and he helped secure a win against the Los Angeles Dodgers in relief during Game 2.
Other Tigers in World Series
Anibal Sanchez was in the same starting rotation as Verlander and Scherzer that carried the Tigers to postseason appearances in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
He was one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2013, but struggled so badly in 2016 and 2017 that the Tigers were justified in declining his team option.
But Sanchez resurfaced in Atlanta and had a bounceback season in 2018, then continued that resurgence this year in Washington.
He carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.
Fernando Rodney is also on the Nationals' roster, though he hasn't pitched much in the postseason. Rodney has struck out five batters in 2.2 shutout innings -- all during blowouts.
Who would Tigers fans rather see win the World Series?
At least one former Detroit Tigers pitcher will win the World Series this season, but which would be less painful?
Verlander is one of the best players in franchise history, but do fans want to see him win a second World Series with another team when couldn't get one in Detroit?
On the other hand, Scherzer has never won the title. Would watching another of the organization's former stars celebrate a World Series hurt even more?
A Nationals win would also mean rings for Sanchez and Rodney. Does that factor into the decision.
As Tigers fans try to forget a 114-loss season, at least one of their former players will reach the peak of the baseball world. Who are you rooting for?