Justin Verlanders sub-par season has been a source of frustration for Tigers fans but is it a source of frustration for Jim Leyland.
After the Tigers second consecutive loss to the Kansa City Royals, a game where Justin Verlander gave up 6 runs (5 earned), Jim Leyland uncharacteristically made a comment about a specific player in his post game interview. When asked about Justin Verlander’s performance, Leyland commented: “I think his is pitching too careful. He should be more aggressive with his stuff but he is pitching a little too careful, thats my opinion.”
When asked what he has seen to make him think that, Leyland said, “I have no further comment on it you are gonna have to ask him.” This is uncharacteristic of Jim Leyland who has always taken a strong stance against calling out his players in the media.
The post game interviews then shifted to Verlander who was asked to comment on Jim Leylands claim that his Cy Young Ace was pitching too carefully. When asked if there was something to Leylands assessment, JV quickly said “No”. When asked what he (Verlander) thought Leyland meant by the comment he said “you are going to have to ask him”
This is the second dust-up between the Tigers ace and his skipper this season. Earlier in the season after the sixth inning, Leyland waited at bottom of the dug out steps to give Verlander a hand shake. That is Leyland’s way of letting his starters know they are done pitching for the game. Verlander tried what he called later “circumventing the system” and entered the dug-out form a different direction. In the post game interview Leyland bristled saying he saw “nothing funny” about what Verlander did.
It is hard to say what exactally is going on between the two but it is clear that their is friction in the relationship. It could just be frustration over Verlander’s lack of command boiling over. Hopefully that is all it is because a power struggle between the manager and the teams #1 pitcher could be a distraction for a team that is expected to win the World Series.