Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander is 4-3 with a 4.14 ERA and 1.15 WHIP at home and 5-4 with a 3.60 ERA and 1.06 WHIP at night this season. The veteran hurler entered the All-Star break with momentum, giving up a combined three earned runs over 12 2/3 innings in his final two starts (2.13 ERA). Verlander posted a 2.27 ERA in his final fourteen starts last season, a span covering 99 innings.
After allowing an .856 OPS with a 13% strikeout rate on his fastball in 38 starts from the commencement of the 2014 regular season through July 19, 2015, Verlander yielded a .541 OPS with a 25% strikeout rate in his final 14 outings last year. The 33-year-old is posting strong strikeout numbers (9.20 K/9 & 25.1% K%) in 2016 and owns a decent 3.87 FIP and 3.82 SIERA.
In fact, Verlander is striking out more than one batter per inning for the first time since 2012! Moreover, Verlander’s 9.2 K/9 rate is his best since 2009! Verlander also boasts a 27.0% K% and a 19.9% K-BB% at Comerica Park this season, and toes the rubber with a 2.54 FIP in his two July starts.
The Tigers are 5-2 in Verlander’s last seven starts and 4-1 in his last five home outings. Detroit is also 5-1 in Verlander’s last six starts versus the Royals.
Kansas City starter Ian Kennedy has been a huge disappointment despite being targeted as a prime bounce back candidate after posting an unsustainable 17.2% home run per fly ball rate last year.
Kennedy’s 3.97 ERA is undermined by a 5.05 FIP, 4.47 XFIP and a 4.00 SIERA. The 31-year-old continues to yield too many home runs (1.90 HR/9) despite being aided by a fortuitous .259 BABIP and 83.9% LOB.
Kennedy posted a 5.83 ERA and 7.10 FIP in June with an alarming 3.38 HR/9 rate. The veteran right-hander is also 3-6 with a 5.14 ERA on the road where he has given up 17 home runs in just 61 1/3 innings of work. Kennedy is also 0-3 with a career 4.94 ERA and 1.31 WHIP versus the Tigers. Let’s also note that the Royals are 0-5 in Kennedy’s last five road starts and 2-5 in his last seven starts overall.
Meanwhile, Kansas City is a money-burning 5-16 in its last 21 road games, 3-8 in its last 11 during game 1 of a series, 9-26 in its last 35 road games versus a right-handed starter and 3-13 in its last 16 road tilts versus teams with a winning record.
With Detroit standing at 11-4 in its last 15 home games and 13-5 in its last 18 home games versus .501 or greater opposition, take the Tigers to improve to 5-1 in the last six home meetings in this series and invest with confidence.