DETROIT -

Justin Verlander's workload might be reduced for the time being, even if it temporarily strains his relationship with manager Brad Ausmus.

The Tigers' struggling ace has given up seven runs in each of his last two starts and at least five runs in six of his last seven outings. Ausmus plans to limit Verlander's innings in his upcoming starts, beginning with his outing in Cleveland on Saturday night.

Ausmus knows Verlander might not agree with those tactics. Ausmus has given Verlander a long leash despite the torrent of base hits -- 111 in 97 2/3 innings -- and runs that Verlander has allowed. His 97-pitch outing against Kansas City on Monday was the first time this season he didn't reach triple digits in pitches.

"It's more difficult because of what he's done at the major-league level and the pride that he takes pitching deep into games," Ausmus said. "If he's (ticked) at me for a couple of outings because I took him out a little early, but they were good outings and got him on a roll, I'm all for having him (ticked) at me for a couple of outings."

Ausmus and pitching coach Jeff Jones met with Verlander at length on Tuesday afternoon, watching video and making sure Verlander's confidence level hadn't fallen off. Ausmus doesn't see a pitcher in decline but rather someone who has fallen into some bad habits that have made him more hittable.

Verlander pitched four scoreless innings against Kansas City on Monday before surrendering four runs in the fifth and three in the sixth. His ERA ballooned to 4.98.

"He's not down on himself, which is the important thing," Ausmus said. "We all feel it's extremely correctable. I don't think he has to reinvent himself. You're talking about a guy who still throws 96 (mph), and he's hit 98 at times. We're not talking about someone who's dropped from 100 to 91. This guy still has it in him. He's not at the point where he needs to reassess his approach to getting hitters out that drastically."

Ausmus wouldn't disclose the flaws that were detected when comparing Verlander's most recent outing to the dominant Verlander of two or three seasons ago. But Ausmus feels the core muscle surgery Verlander underwent last offseason might have played a role. He believes Verlander may have altered his mechanics while working his way back from the surgery.

"In recent starts, the big inning has been the issue," Ausmus said. "It's really just a bad pitch at the wrong time. The velocity he's throwing at is more than enough to get people out. It's not the velocity; it's the location."