[PODCAST] Verlander Struggles
Shep talks about Justin Verlander's continuing struggles in the loss to the Athletics and his spot in the rotation during the playoffs.
I don't think I've ever been too reactionary when it comes to sports topics. I've been patient, understanding that players and coaches aren't based off one game; one week or even a month. But Justin Verlander's recent struggles should make us all concerned. I don't think this Tigers team can win the World Series without him being effective. I'm not suggesting he needs to return to his MVP and Cy Young form of 2011, but he needs to be a lot better than what he has done this summer.
Verlander gave up 17 earned runs in 39 innings in June; he lost three of his six starts in July and so far in August, he's allowed 16 earned runs in five starts. He's a strikeout pitcher, but he's gone 17 straight starts without striking out double digits. He's allowed five runs or more six times this year ... two more than he did in the last two seasons combined!
I don't buy that it's because of a blister he suffered in an April start against Kansas City. He pitched two gems after that, in dominating both Minnesota and Houston. I don't believe it's because he's jealous of Max Scherzer's success. The starters are friends and they are all competitive at everything they do. Scherzer was great at the end of last season and it didn't affect Verlander. Doug Fister was 8-1 down the stretch in 2011 and it didn't affect Verlander. If he's so disturbed by Scherzer's success, then he's not as mentally strong as I've believed him to be. I don't think a player of his caliber reaches his success by letting a teammate's good fortune bother him.
It's frustrating because none of us have the answer. Jim Leyland doesn't have the answer, and it doesn't appear Verlander has the solution either. He set the bar so high that maybe it's impossible to reach it. That comes with the territory though. When you sign an extension that will pay you $28 million/year, the results must be worthy of such financial security. Right now Verlander is not delivering. He is the third, maybe the fourth, best pitcher on this starting staff. And without him, this team and franchise is in trouble.
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