Justin Verlander is a polarizing figure in Detroit and I’m not sure if it’s because of his cocky personality, the $140 million left on his contract, or what, but there are those out there that just despise him and believe he’s washed up. There are also those that love him and expect him to bounce back this year, while there are still others who just blame Kate Upton.
This is being brought up now as JV was touched for five runs yesterday which included three home runs to the Washington Nationals. Now there was a Detroit News story that Verlander had been tinkering with his slider and that could have led to some of his spring struggles, however after a disappointing 2014 campaign for any pitcher, plus factoring in JV’s $20 million dollar salary, which sure doesn’t help we take a look a little deeper.
I tend to hear three different things from the groups mentioned above and they revolve around…
- Off-season core surgery – The pro-JV fans tend to lean on this one as Verlander had surgery last year in the off-season and was never able to complete his throwing program or gain full arm strength as he had done in years past. For those that have had surgery, you’ll hear that whatever you’ve had surgery on may take up to a year to be back to normal (I agree). That said, Verlander never blamed the surgery as the issue publically but he did come out this past off-season saying that it may have been at least part of the problem
- Pitch Count/Innings Pitched – The haters tend to lean on this one for a reason why he’s washed up. This past weekend, ESPN’s Jayson Stark blogged about a conversation with Verlander and within that blog entry Stark discussed JV’s pitch count and innings pitched. Verlander believes pitchers are coddled in the minor’s and that’s the reason we’ve seen record numbers elbow and shoulder surgeries. Now Verlander wasn’t coddled, nor has he ever been on the DL, however these numbers have to be startling since 2007: #1 in starts, #1 in pitches thrown, and #1 in pitches per start. Stark goes on to say that only James Shields is within 2,000 pitches of Verlander in that span. The numbers continue though as Verlander is one of three pitchers to throw 200+ innings each of those seasons (Buehrle/Shields).
- Verlander hasn’t been right since dating Kate Upton – If that’s the case, good for him… J
Furthermore, the haters will point to Verlander’s declining numbers since 2011 (although 2012 was a great season) where is ERA grew by .78 in 2013 and again by 1.08 in 2014 to match his declining WHIP. Fastball velocity and his curve ball effectiveness have been blamed for these increases. Check out JV’s fastball velocity the last three years thanks to fanball.com
The Verlander faithful will point to the post season. Last year was too small of a sample, but 2013 showed significant change with 3 starts, 23 innings thrown and just one earned run given up.
The Kate Upton campers, well they tried to blame the leaked photos I’m sure.
Let’s hope the 25 lbs of muscle that JV put on as well as the full season throwing program meshes well with the slider tinkering and we see the Verlander of 2010 this season (2011-2012 not gonna happen)