By Jeff Riger
Wednesday night Justin Verlander must have had a lot on his mind. The reigning MVP and Cy Young winner was looking to stop yet another Detroit losing skid while waiting through a 2 and a half hour rain delay. And, as usual the ace came through! Verlander tossed his 5th complete game of the season as the Tigers downed the Twins 5-1 at Comerica Park. Verlander gave up just 4 hits and 1 run, walked 1 and struck out 9 in route to his 9th win of the year; it took him just 115 pitches.
Of course also at stake was a possible start in the All Star game in Kansas City next week. Verlander had just the one start left to leave a lasting impression on AL skipper Ron Washington and I would say that he gave the Rangers head man something to think about. At the break, Verlander has a 9-5 record with a 2.58 ERA but is it good enough to get the start?
“Yeah it would be nice, it would be fantastic but I know there are other guys out there having exceptional years” the Virginia native said. And, he is right! There really isn’t a clear-cut favorite to get the honor this year plus some other pitchers might be ineligible due to starts late in the week, thus they would not have enough time to recover and pitch on Tuesday in KC.
Here is a look at Verlander’s competition…
David Price- 11-4, 2.82 ERA. Price pitched on Wednesday night so he would be eligible to throw in the All Star game but he did not go the distance like Verlander did. Price threw 7 innings of 4 hit, 1 run baseball and got the no decision as the Rays lost 4-3 to the Yankees. Now one could argue that 7 innings of 1 run baseball against the Yanks is tougher than 9 against the struggling Twins and I would buy that argument.
CC Sabathia- 9-3 with a 3.45 ERA. Sabathia has just been placed in the DL, so he is not an option to pitch next Tuesday
Chris Sale- 10-2 with a 2.19 ERA. There is no question in my mind that Sale should be the AL starter, next week however he may be deemed ineligible. Sale pitched on Tuesday and picked up a win when he lasted 7.1 innings of 5 hit, 1 run baseball. The 3rd year starter pitched Tuesday, meaning he would have his next start come on Sunday. If Chicago decides to use him on the last day before the break, then he could not pitch in the All Star game.
Jered Weaver- 9-1 with a 2.13 ERA. Weaver no doubt would have a great chance to start the midsummer classic although he is schedule to pitch on Saturday, meaning he would not have enough time to recover in order to pitch on Tuesday.
CJ Wilson- 9-4 with a 2.33 ERA. Wilson is scheduled to pitch on Friday night, so even if Washington were to pick him, he too would not be able to go as he would only be on 3 days’ rest.
So after reading the above information you will notice that Washington’s only two options are Verlander and Price. Who should it be?
Verlander has the better WHIP and ERA while Price has the better record and won a head to head matchup last weekend in Tampa. Seems like it’s pretty even, well that is until you look at what each pitcher does each time out. Verlander has 5 complete games this season while Price has just 1. Verlander also consistently goes deeper into games than Price does. Plus you have to take into account the season that Verlander had last year when he won the Cy Young and the MVP. Or do you?
Should the honor of starting the All Star game go to the best pitcher for the first half of the season or is it a resume award where what a pitcher has done in the past should come into play?
“The All Star game is year to year” Verlander said. This is the half way point of 2012 not the end of 2011. The starter went on saying “yeah, I had a good year last year but I should not be warranted for that. If I get the start in the All Star game I want to know it is because I have been the best pitcher up to this point.”
The question was then posed to Verlander if he thinks he is owed the honor?
Verlander said “you’re not owed anything in this game; whoever is the best pitcher at this point is owed that. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity last year (he started on the Sunday before the break so he was ineligible to pitch) and who knows if I would have had it anyway because Jared Weaver was very good up until that point as well. It would be nice; I would like to have that on the resume.”
Even though Verlander doesn’t believe the past should matter, his teammates feel differently. “He can shut down a team; that is for sure. The way that he’s pitched in his career he definitely deserves to start it” said catcher Alex Avila.
Skipper Jim Leyland did not offer a comment on which starter should get the nod but did pay his ace praise saying “I think he (Verlander) is the best pitcher in the game myself. I’m probably a little partial but him and David Price are certainly the hot items.”
Leyland is right, just seems like Verlander seems to be a little hotter item right now than Price and for that reason, expect JV on the mound to start the All Star game next Tuesday in Kansas City.
What do you think?
Follow Jeff Riger on Twitter @riger1984