Matt Shepard is the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball, Eastern Michigan University football and the Detroit Lions Television Network. He can also be found on TV locally on Fox Sports Detroit and nationally on the Big Ten Network for college football and baseball.
Here, he answers a few of your burning questions.
Hometown? Farmington Hills, MI
Marital Status? Married, Lisa, with four children (3-boys 1-girl)
What High School did you attend? North Farmington HS
What is your Favorite sport to watch on TV and your favorite sport to attend in person?
Football on TV...hockey to attend
Who is your favorite actor or actress?
Clint Eastwood/Mel Gibson.....Ashley Judd
Who is your favorite sports celebrity of all time? Wayne Gretzky
Bases loaded, two outs in the bottom of the ninth of the Game Seven of the World Series and your team is down one run...Which active baseball player do you want at the plate? Derek Jeter
Who is your favorite cartoon character? Bugs Bunny
What is your favorite national sports moment? Miracle on Ice
What is your favorite Detroit sports moment?
1984 World Series & 1997 Red Wings Stanley Cup
If you could change a rule in sports, what would it be?
I'd just like to see the strike zone called appropriately
What Detroiter do you admire most? Joe Dumars
College or Pro Sports? College
If you could invite three people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be? Jesus....my father (deceased)....my father-in-law (deceased) to see 'em one more time
What was your most interesting interview? Paul Newman at the Detroit Grand Prix
Favorite broadcaster of all time? Dick Enberg....but I really respect Joe Buck
Most embarrassing moment on the air? Stuttering during a line in a sportscast
What is your favorite Sports Team? Detroit Tigers
Shep's Daily Poll Question is brought to you by Art Moran Buick GMC
It's pretty obvious that Justin Verlander is not himself. There's no reason to panic, but there is a reason to question: what's wrong?
I'm not sure any of us are sophisticated enough to pinpoint Verlander's "mechanical" or "mental" issues, but I don't need to be a major league pitching coach to recognize there is a problem either. Verlander looks much more hittable than he ever has. He has surrendered 15 earned runs and 32 hits in his last 31 innings and has raised his ERA to 3.91, the highest it's been in his career since 2008 and the second highest it has ever been.
Keep in mind now that Verlander had won four straight decisions, and it should have been five if not for the blown save by Jose Valverde, before Sunday. But righthanded hitters are batting .286 against him this season when, for his career, they were batting .237. His pitches per plate appearance and pitches for inning are at career highs; team's are hitting .261 against him, the second highest in his career (rookie) and slugging .383, also the second worst in his career (rookie). I know in baseball we use far too many statistics to prove our point, but everyone would have to admit those numbers are troubling.
The question Tigers fans now have is, "can the Tigers win it all without a sharp Justin Verlander?" Look, there was already a huge question mark with this teams bullpen, I don't think it can afford such an issue with their top starter. Because Max Scherzer has been so good, maybe they can, but I wouldn't bet on it.
There have been teams that have won world championships without a top-notch "ace," like the White Sox in 2005 with Jon Garland and the Angels of 2002 with Jerrod Washburn, but for the most part, teams need that go-to-guy. I believe Scherzer can be that guy, but the reason this years squad gave us so much optimism is because of that potential 1-2 and even 3 punch in the rotation. Verlander's performances have shaken our confidence and rightfully so. I don't expect him to regain his 2011 form, but he does need regain his command of his pitches or the Tigers may have to settle for a division championship and another post season full of disapointment.