Thursday's matinee at Comerica Park might reveal whether Justin Verlander has officially turned the corner after a recent rough patch. He'll face the Blue Jays, who have won 13 of their past 15 games.
Verlander gave up 11 hits and at least five runs in consecutive outings before striking out seven in 7 2/3 innings last Friday in a win at Seattle.
Against the Mariners, Verlander said, "my rhythm was much better, my consistency was much better and my stuff was a lot better. That's a good sign in and of itself."
Verlander's focal point entering that start was his command of his fastball, and that's where his attention will be Thursday as well.
"I've been walking too many guys," Verlander said after his last start, in which he walked only one. "It's not like I was intentionally walking guys. I was just inconsistent. Not saying by any means that this was perfect and we're going to go forward from here. That's not the way this works. But it shows me that the stuff I've been working on was definitely helping. I was able to pound the zone with good stuff."
While Verlander's fastball velocity has dropped off this year, Toronto's starter on Thursday, J.A. Happ, has seen his increase. Asked to explain the added zip, Happ said, "I think getting more comfortable out there, getting more reps in and getting back healthy is a big thing."
Last time out, facing the Royals, Happ was handed a loss. He allowed six runs on nine hits in 7 2/3 innings.
"They put some good swings on me," Happ said. "They were aggressive, and they definitely made me pay for my mistakes."
Blue Jays: Delabar drop-off is alarming, but he says he's fine
Last year, Steve Delabar was one of the most reliable relievers in baseball, but this season his velocity has dipped a bit and he's struggled with his control.
"He's not locating his fastball and walking too many guys," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Might be feeling for it a little bit. A lot of times that will happen when you start walking guys, try to start guiding it a little bit, and it works totally the opposite."
According to Brooks Baseball, Delabar averaged 95.53 mph on his four-seam fastball last season, and this year he's slightly down to 94.59.
The bigger issue has been the inconsistent command as Delabar has walked 1.2 more batters and struck out 4.7 fewer per nine innings this season.
"He says he feels fine," Gibbons said when asked if there were any health concerns. "He competes, he keeps competing. [A lot of relievers] hit stretches and it's not as easy as it used to be, but they still get back on track."
Tigers: Suarez's first start likely to come Thursday
Shortstop Eugenio Suarez is likely to be in the Tigers' lineup Thursday for the finale against the Blue Jays.
On Wednesday, Detroit announced a third shortstop shakeup in as many months, though Suarez didn't start the game. If the prospect can carry the momentum he built this year on his way up the farm system, there's at least a chance the Tigers might finally have a lasting answer to the loss of injured Jose Iglesias.
The Tigers called up Suarez from Triple-A Toledo and he entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning of Wednesday's game. With just less than two months to go before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the 22-year-old Venezuelan shortstop will get his shot to hold down the job.
To make room for Suarez on the 25-man roster, the Tigers designated Danny Worth for assignment on Wednesday.
• Wednesday's loss to Toronto secured a fifth straight series without a series victory for the Tigers. Their last series win came May 16-18 in Boston.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.