Justin Verlander Must Raise His Game For The Detroit Tigers


Jul 22, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher

Justin Verlander

against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There was a time not so long ago when Justin Verlander was the undisputed king of the Detroit Tigers rotation.  After winning the Cy Young and MVP awards Justin Verlander was on top of the baseball world.  He was being referred to as a future Hall of Famer and best pitcher to even wear the Old English D.

But starting in 2012 Verlenaders world started to crumble.  His velocity started wane, the bend on his signature curveball began to flatten. And his reputation as an ace taken a serious hit. this season Verlander is struggling to keep his swollen ERA below 5.00 and is no longer considered one of baseballs marque hurlers much less the ace of his own club’s rotation.

Although he is struggling mightily, Justin Verlander may still be able to recapture his former glory.   He has shown flashes of his Cy Young self this season and with his velocity slowly returning Verlander could have a good stretch run.

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But in order to have a good stretch run, Verlander must raise his game, even if he has to change it.

Other than a return to the play-offs, Verlander may have a little extra motivation during the stretch run this season.  With the acquisition of David Price, the club now has another Ace who is capable of taking the ball in the play-offs. Now for the first time in his major league career Justin Verlander’s status as the Tigers play-off ace is in question and his spot in the play-off rotation is no longer a foregone conclusion.

With strong performance down the stretch Verlander could change is fate and recapture some of his reputation as a playoff pitcher.  In order to accomplish that goal he needs to concentrate on pitch count rather than strike-outs.  By managing his pitch count and going deep into the game Verlander can help take stress off of the restructured bullpen.

If Verlander can consistently pitch into the 7th inning, he greatly improves the Tigers chances of winning.  On the flip side if he struggles to get through 5 innings and the Tigers have to regularly depend on Albuquerque or Blaine Hardy that could spell doom for the Tigers as they try to hold off the surging Kansas City Royals.

Justin Verlander is at a career crossroads.  If he can adapt his game to what the Detroit Tigers need he could reestablish himself as one of the better pitchers in baseball. If not he will find himself sitting in the bullpen watching Rick Porcello take his turn in the play-off rotation.