Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander may not be the pitcher he once was, but National League teams sure wouldn't know it.
Verlander is undefeated in three Interleague starts this season. His 4.58 ERA in those games might not be pretty, but he's thrown quality starts in two of his three chances and has struck out 17 over 19 2/3 innings compared to six walks.
Two starts ago against the D-backs, Verlander went 6 2/3 innings, striking out five and allowing six hits and three walks. More importantly, he noticed a change in his arm action before the game and corrected it, leading to a noticeable improvement in his fastball command.
"I could tell right from jump street -- it felt like I was able to throw the way I want," Verlander said. "Really the first time all year that I felt like I've been able to locate my fastball as well as I would like to."
In 31 career Interleague starts, Verlander owns a 24-2 record and a 2.75 ERA. Colorado left-hander Franklin Morales probably wishes he was as fortunate.
Morales has made 21 Interleague appearances, including seven starts. In those games, Morales has compiled a 5.76 ERA and surrendered 11 home runs.
Morales has never started a game against Detroit, but in six relief appearances, the Tigers have got to him for eight hits, five runs and five walks.
Although he's struggled to eat innings, Morales has at least been reliable for the Rockies since rejoining their rotation. His most recent start was easily his worst over that span, though, as he lasted just four innings and served up six hits, five walks and two runs to the Pirates.
With Morales' floundering of late and Verlander tossing a one-run, complete game in his most recent start against Colorado back in 2011, the Rockies have double the reasons to hope history doesn't hold true.
Rockies: Matzek ready to roll following emergency appearance
When you consider the Rockies played a total of eight extra innings in their four-game series against the Cubs, it's no surprise that there were a few pitching casualties.
Left-hander Tyler Matzek was slated to start Thursday, but after tossing the final frame of the Rockies' 16-inning, 4-3 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday, he was replaced with left-hander Pedro Hernandez.
The emergency appearance came just three days after he tossed seven scoreless against the Pirates. Although he's currently not scheduled to pitch during this three-game series against Detroit, Matzek said he feels "fine" after spending just 16 pitches his last time out.
"It was just a normal short bullpen for me -- an extra bullpen between starts for me," said Matzek, who had thrown a bullpen session on Monday. "I've always been really durable. It felt fine that night and it feels fine now."
Matzek is in his first season in the Majors so the Rockies will surely play it safe with the 23-year-old. But after Saturday's scheduled starter Yohan Flande was called upon to throw 1 2/3 innings of relief Thursday, Matzek seems like a likely candidate to start Saturday against the Tigers.
Tigers: Ausmus reflects on short time with Rockies
Although few remember Tigers manager Brad Ausmus' brief tenure with the Rockies, he can still recall his jaw hitting the floor when they made him their third-round pick in the 1992 Expansion Draft when he was in the Yankees organization.
Ausmus was watching the process unfold on television in his room at his Dartmouth fraternity house. When he heard his name called, he couldn't believe it, and nor could his fraternity brothers.
"I was in my room by myself," Ausmus said. "There must've been guys down the hall watching it because I heard [them yelling] down the hall."
Ausmus was in the Rockies organization for less than a year and never made it to the Majors before the team sent him to the Padres in a Deadline deal. But he'll always look back fondly on the opportunity they allowed him.
"When you first sign and play with a team in the Minors for five years, you feel like you're never going to leave the team," said Ausmus of his time with the Yankees. "When I get picked up in an Expansion Draft, which is a rare event anyway, once you get over the shock, it was fun actually. It was a brand-new team. Inaugural Spring Training. I enjoyed it [and] met a lot of people that I had never met in the game. "
• The Tigers acquired Rays left-hander David Price in a blockbuster, three-team trade before Thursday's Trade Deadline. Detroit sent left-hander Drew Smyly and shortstop Willy Adames to Tampa Bay and outfielder Austin Jackson to Seattle to acquire Price's services.
• Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez returned to the lineup Thursday after missing one game because of soreness in his knee and ankle. He batted fifth and finished 0-for-4 with one strikeout.
• The Rockies designated corner infielder Ryan Wheeler for assignment Thursday to make room for left-hander Pedro Hernandez on the 40-man roster.
Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.