Homecoming week: Tigers expected to face old friends Scherzer and Verlander back-to-back

Detroit News

Detroit — Maybe this would have been pretty cool for the teenage Eric Haase. He certainly spent plenty of time at Comerica Park back in the day, sitting in the stands watching Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer doing their thing for the Tigers.

But, the teenage Eric Haase never had to worry about actually getting into the batter’s box against them.

Different story for the 30-year-old Eric Haase.

“Looking back, they marched out like five Cy Young winners on the same staff, didn’t they?” Haase said, exaggerating just a tad. “It’s almost comical at this point seeing pictures of those guys back there (in the Tigers’ lunchroom at Comerica) and just how premium pitching was in Detroit.”

Thanks to a couple of rainouts in Flushing, N.Y., over the weekend, the New York Mets will come into Comerica Park armed with both ex-Tigers.

Scherzer, who has served his 10-day suspension for using sticky stuff on his pitching hand in his last start on April 19, is scheduled to start in Game 2 of the series on Wednesday. Verlander, who started the season on the injured list because of a strain in his right lat (teres major), is scheduled to make his season and Mets debut in the finale Thursday.

Haase was 13 when Verlander debuted for the Tigers in 2005. When Verlander and Scherzer were in the Tigers’ rotation together — along with future Cy Young-winners Rick Porcello and David Price — from 2010 through 2014, Haase was first winning a state title at Dearborn Divine Child and then starting his pro career with Cleveland.

“To see that in today’s game that would be absolutely insane,” Haase said of the Tigers’ formidable rotation, which also in those days included Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister and briefly, Cy Young-winner Robby Ray. “Obviously, keeping those guys together was going to be impossible, just from a roster crunch and money standpoint.

“And now to see their development and what they’ve turned into, it’s crazy.”

Both Verlander and Scherzer have three Cy Young Awards on their mantel. Verlander has two World Series rings and Scherzer one. Both have made well over $300 million in the game. The Mets are paying both $43.33 million this season.

Scherzer, 38, will be making his second start at Comerica Park since leaving the Tigers. He struck out 14 and allowed a run over eight innings on June 30, 2019. Of course, more memorable was his first outing against the Tigers after he signed with the Washington Nationals.

He struck out 20 in a complete-game win at Washington on May 11, 2016.

For Verlander, 40, it will be his fifth start against the Tigers and third back at Comerica Park. He beat the Tigers on Sept. 10, 2018, striking out 10 over seven innings. On May 15, 2019, he beat them again at Comerica, striking out nine and allowing two hits and a run in seven innings.

“If you’ve played at this level for any amount of time, it’s like, for sure there is a certain amount of respect for these guys,” Haase said. “It’s just so hard to do what they’ve done. Nothing but respect for guys who can do it for that long. It’s like Miggy (Cabrera), doing it for 20 years.

“But, when you get on the field, it has to be just like another guy that you’re facing and you just try to get a good pitch to hit.”

Should be a fun couple of days at the old ballpark.

Around the horn

… The Tigers, according to reports out of Tampa, claimed right-handed reliever Braden Bristo, who was designated for assignment by the Rays. Bristo is 28 and features a swing-and-miss cutter (88 mph) that he throws off a 92-mph sinker. He pitched three scoreless innings in his brief call-up to Tampa this season. The Tigers will have to make a corresponding move to clear space on their 40-man roster.

… The Tigers also signed 11-year veteran reliever Heath Hembree to a minor-league deal. The 34-year-old former Red Sox right-hander had been with the Rays briefly this season.

… Also signed to a minor-league deal was 29-year-old lefty Sam Clay. Clay, an unsigned minor-league free agent, had brief stints with the Mets and Nationals last season. He is expected to report to the Tigers’ facility in Lakeland for conditioning before he is placed in the system.

On Deck: Mets

Series: Three games at Comerica Park

First pitch: Tuesday-Wednesday – 6:40 p.m.; Thursday – 1:10 p.m.

TV/radio: Tuesday-Thursday – Bally Sports Detroit, 97.1.

Probables: Tuesday – LHP Joey Lucchesi (1-0, 2.19) vs. RHP Michael Lorenzen (0-1, 7.07); Wednesday – RHP Max Scherzer (2-1, 3.72) vs. LHP Joey Wentz (0-3, 6.45); Thursday – RHP Justin Verlander (season debut) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2-2, 2.21).

Lucchesi, Mets: It’s his first year back after Tommy John surgery, and he debuted on April 21 with seven scoreless innings against the Giants in San Francisco. He features a sinker-cutter combination that doesn’t induce much swing-and-miss or chase, but a lot of soft contact.

Lorenzen, Tigers: He has yet to find traction, especially early in the game, through three starts. He gave up four runs in the first two innings against the Giants in his first start and then last week in Milwaukee was hit with a three-spot right out of the gate. And yet, hitters are doing very little against his fastball (2-for-14, nine strikeouts) and changeup (3-for-14, four strikeouts).

Twitter: @cmccosky

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