The first day of the regular season brought the first major challenge for the new-look Kansas City Royals. Their first opponents were the Detroit Tigers and the first pitcher they would face was Justin Verlander. For years, Verlander had been one of the most formidable pitchers in the American League. In 2011-2012, he was absolutely unhittable. 2013 saw the first signs of decline for the hard-throwing right-hander, but all but the most pessimistic fans thought he would bounce back to contend for a Cy Young.
In the original version of the timeline, before Strike-O-Matic and the robot masters changed everything, 2014 was a disappointment for Verlander. His first-half ERA was almost a run and a half above his career numbers. Even by the standards established in Detroit in the early 21st century, this was a disaster. However, time travel changes everything. While the robot masters had no particular interest in Verlander other than his eventual subjugation at their cold steel hand, their presence would disrupt the timeline across the board. This would give him another shot at a successful 2014. And Verlander wasn’t someone to bet on disappointing twice.