Programming note: A's-Mariners coverage kicks off Friday night at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California
SEATTLE – There is a fascinating decision awaiting the Detroit Tigers, the A’s possible first-round playoff opponent.
Should they start former Cy Young winner and Most Valuable Player Justin Verlander in Game 1, or go with 21-game winner Max Scherzer, who’s had the best 2013 season of any Tigers starter?
The A’s will certainly take an interest. At 94-65, they’re two games behind Boston for the top seed in the American League with three regular-season games left to play. The odds are tilted toward them playing the Tigers in their American League Divisional Series. They lead the Tigers by one game for home-field advantage in a potential best-of-five matchup.
Everyone knows Verlander’s history against the A’s. He beat them twice in last year’s ALDS, including a shutout in the deciding Game 5, and holds a 2.48 ERA against them in 15 regular season starts. Scherzer is 2-1 with a 4.20 ERA in six regular-season starts against the A’s, and he allowed zero earned runs in 5 1/3 innings last season in his one ALDS start.
But the A’s might hold a psychological edge based on the most recent meetings. They hung a loss on Verlander on Aug. 27 at Comerica Park and two days later got to Scherzer for five earned runs over five innings, making both right-handers look ordinary.
Check out this interesting debate on which Detroit pitcher should start Game 1.
As of Wednesday evening, A’s manager Bob Melvin was expecting to have Yoenis Cespedes back in left field for Friday’s series opener at Seattle. Cespedes has thrown twice to test his sore right shoulder and has come out of it well both times. He hasn’t played defense since Sept. 13, serving strictly as designated hitter since then.