By Terry Foster
I had an interesting talk today with former Tigers pitcher Denny McLain about Justin Verlander.
As you all know Verlander struggled again, dropping his record to 12-10, following Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss to the Oakland A’s at Comerica Park.
Verlander said afterward that he has a little more than a month to work on mechanics and become the ace again. But McLain said it might not be as easy as Verlander thinks.
“We all get old,” McLain said. “Maybe this is the first stage of decline.”
Verlander is 30 years old and that remains a young man in my book. But athletics are cruel. Age 30 is like being 50. Maybe there is some truth to what McLain says, but you still see flashes of greatness in JV.
He is in a vicious pattern. He usually has bad first innings. He gave up two runs on 44 pitches in the first inning against Oakland. Then he settles down for two to four innings and is great.
Then he explodes again and gives up a ton of runs.
“He has hit a wall,” McLain said. “You don’t get much better after ages 31 or 32. I can’t name very many that have unless you are Roger Clemens who shot that stuff in his arm.”
McLain also said Verlander is moving his head too much on pitches, comparing it to a golf swing. When we keep our head still and on the ball in golf we do well. When the head is on a swivel we often struggle.
Now Verlander knows what he must do before the playoffs. He must keep his head still and find the fountain of youth.