Detroit Tigers Should Be Cautious With Justin Verlander


Opening Day is a mere 5 days away and Detroit Tigers starting pitcher and now former-Ace Justin Verlander is in the news for the wrong reasons.

According to reports and because of his recent injury it’s doubtful if he’ll be able to pitch his first turn in the rotation. While it’s not the biggest news swirling with the start of the MLB season on the horizon it’s still important.

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The Tigers rotation is much weaker compared to a season go. Replacing Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello for Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon will do that to a team. That is why it’s so important for Verlander to be effective this season.

Pundits (like me) are already calling Verlander a huge X-Factor to this Tigers team. He needs to pitch well for them to be successful. He doesn’t need to be his 2011 Cy Young/MVP-self but a return to even his 2013-self will help this team immensely.

But that’s in terms of the entire season. A full 162 games toward the march to the postseason. Not the first start of the season. While every game does count the Tigers will need to rely on a healthy Verlander down the stretch compared to an early April start.

Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers /

Detroit Tigers

With news that David Price is going to make the Opening Day start this should not be a big blow to the Tigers staff in terms of the importance of the Opening Day start.

The beginning of the season also has tons of off-days as the weather comes around. The Tigers can roll with a 4-man rotation and potentially carry an extra bullpen arm if Verlander heads to the Disabled List.

All in all though the Tigers absolutely need to be cautious with Verlander. After signing his mega-deal a couple of off-seasons ago he’s the Tigers’ and the Tigers’ only.

They need to think of his long-term health instead of just one start or maybe even a couple of starts. Either way just like Verlander is restructuring himself for the future the Tigers should do the same.

Along with the long-term implications of the injury though are that Tigers fans want to see a healthy Verlander. After his off-season surgery last year he came back to pitching really quick. There were even rumors that he hadn’t fully healed yet by the All-Star break.

Mar 12, 2015; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Coupled with some shoulder problems throughout the season, that all added to one of the worst seasons of his career. While Verlander bounced back from his putrid 2008 to get 3rd in the Cy Young voting in 2009 the situations are all a lot more different.

He’s not nearly as young now and his huge contract has even the most optimistic Tigers fans worried. After all, such a big investment of a contract can handcuff a team if he falters largely.

A healthy Verlander is now so vital to this team it’s a bit scary. There are just too many question marks for a pitcher on the wrong side of 30.

Luckily for Tigers fans if anybody can do it, its Verlander. Beat writers and even critics all know of Verlander’s work ethic. He’s one of the most fiery competitors on the team by all reports.

Even at his most successful Verlander was still effective with a low-90’s to mid-90’s fastball in the early innings. He would just dial it up to 100 mph in the 7th or 8th if he needed right out of his back pocket.

That’s just the type of pitcher Verlander is. He will absolutely recreate himself as a pitcher as long as he’s successful and good at it.

One of the main knocks on Verlander was that he relied too much on his fastball. Except with a knee-buckling curve, a fading change-up, and an improving slider he doesn’t need to throw the fastball so much. In reality the drop in velocity might not be as doom and gloom as some analysts are trying to convince baseball fans.

Verlander seems to be gearing for the future and the Tigers should do that as well. Let the man rest. Fully recovered he’ll come back to tear it up in the Majors. He’s here to stay and the Tigers need to keep that in mind.

Now, your thoughts. What do you think the Tigers should do? Rest him? Start him? Or just let him do his own thing? Whatever the case, it’s assured that Verlander will do whatever he can to be the best pitcher in the league once again.