By Tom Millikan
That’s right. I said it. Justin Verlander is the reason why the Tigers aren’t the best team in baseball. Verlander is expected to be good to great all of the time. His offseason contract extension was well-deserved. So far he’s not earning it. An ace is allowed to have a down year. Aces shouldn’t have mediocre years. JV’s 2013 defines mediocrity.
Following last night’s pathetic performance, Verlander is now 12-10 with an ERA of 3.73. He has zero complete games and his strikeout total may very well end up being the lowest it has been since 2008. The Tigers are 13-15 in games he has started this year. Last night he threw 44 pitches in the first inning. That is the most he has ever thrown in one inning.
All of those stats are garbage. They’re not good enough for a guy who has shown once in-a-generation stuff. I’m a Verlander honk. I never thought I’d have an opinion like this about him. I never thought his performance would stoop so low. I’ve always thought JV would come very close to winning 300 games. Right now I’m not so sure he will.
So what’s the issue? If you ask Verlander or the Tigers there isn’t an issue. So we have to speculate. Is it fatigue? Is it arrogance? Is it Kate Upton? Is it something that isn’t public knowledge? Who knows? But if I had to guess the logical answer would be a combination of arm fatigue and overconfidence. My belief is that this is simply a phase in Verlander’s career and he will bounce back next season to be the JV we all love.
For now, it’s too bad Verlander is having this season this season. The Tigers would without a doubt be the best team in baseball if JV was as good as he was last year. But he’s not. He’s just an average middle-of-the-road 3rd starter.
Can it change this year? Maybe. How? I would rest Verlander for two starts and see if it works. Let him clear his mind. Let his arm have a little bit of rest. If it doesn’t work what’s the harm? If it does work, then the Tigers will be the best team in baseball and the favorite to win the World Series.