No matter how unfair Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland believes it may be, Justin Verlander isn't meeting expectations during an inconsistent season to date.
Verlander's stability, though, may be something Jake Peavy envies.
Detroit seeks its first four-game sweep on the South Side of Chicago in more than 33 years Thursday when Verlander opposes Peavy, who could be making his final start for the White Sox.
Verlander won the AL MVP and Cy Young Award in 2011 before helping the Tigers reach the World Series while winning 17 games last season, key reasons many believe his current numbers - a 10-7 record with a 3.69 ERA - aren't up to par.
The White Sox roughed up Verlander for five runs and a season-worst 12 hits in seven innings as he suffered an 11-4 loss July 9, allowing homers to Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo. He had gone 12-1 with a 2.33 ERA in his previous 13 starts against Chicago
Verlander bounced back from that outing by allowing one hit through seven innings - losing his no-hitter with two outs in the seventh - of a 5-0 win over Texas, but he then allowed six runs in 5 2-3 frames of a 6-5 loss to Kansas City on Saturday.
The right-hander hasn't been pleased with his performance this season given the expectations he's set for himself.
``It's been a see-saw battle,' Verlander said. ``I haven't been able to find it. I'm trying to find that consistency."
Leyland knows his ace is capable of getting back to that elite level.
``It's just not what you expect of him, which is a little unfair because of what you expect of him," Leyland said. "He just didn't have a Justin Verlander-type game. These things happen.'
Verlander of course won't have to worry about being dealt before the July 31 trade deadline, though, something Peavy cannot boast.
Peavy (7-4, 4.19) is garnering interest from multiple teams looking to acquire another piece for their rotation, but he pitched through the rumors Saturday and allowed four runs - two earned - in six innings of a 10-6 win over Atlanta.
It marked his first start since fracturing a rib while allowing six runs in 2 1-3 innings of a 7-4 loss to Seattle on June 4.
The most recent reports have the White Sox in discussions to trade the right-hander to Boston, though Peavy is focused on the task at hand.
"Honestly, come 1 p.m. (Thursday), that'll be the last thing that I'll be thinking of," Peavy said. "I'll be worried about getting Austin Jackson out at 1 (Thursday), not anything about (which scouts may be) watching."
He likely will need to worry about the rest of the Tigers' lineup, too, as he's 0-3 with a 7.13 ERA over his last four starts against Detroit. Peavy allowed three runs - a two-run homer to Jackson and solo shot to Miguel Cabrera - in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-3 loss the last time he faced the Tigers on Sept. 11.
Peavy, though, won't have to worry about facing Cabrera, who will miss a third straight contest due to a left hip flexor injury.
Detroit is seeking its first four-game sweep in Chicago since June 20-22, 1980, after winning 6-2 on Wednesday.
Jackson, Torii Hunter and Prince Fielder all homered for the Tigers (56-44), who have won four straight overall.
Viciedo homered and Alejandro De Aza had three hits as the White Sox (39-59) lost for the sixth time in nine games.
Detroit has won 13 of the last 17 meetings.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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