By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Longtime Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander might be getting the hook more quickly in future starts.
Verlander allowed seven earned runs Monday, the second straight outing in which he has done so. Those recent performances have not been outliers; Verlander has given up five or more earned runs in six of his last seven starts. The later innings have been particularly unkind to Verlander.
As a result, first-year Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he has considered pulling Verlander earlier than usual and will continue to do so.
“I even thought about it going into yesterday’s game, that if he got through six, even though maybe he wasn’t up to Justin Verlander standards in terms of pitch count, to just get him out just so he has a good outing under his belt,” Ausmus said. “It’s something I considered even going into yesterday.
“It’s more difficult because of what he’s done at the major league level and the pride that he takes in pitching deep into games, but if he’s pissed at me for a couple outings because I took him out a little early but they were good outings and we can get him on a roll, then I’m all for him being pissed at me for a couple outings,” Ausmus added.
Ausmus joined Verlander and pitching coach Jeff Jones to review video Tuesday of Verlander’s recent outings compared to starts from a couple of years ago. While Ausmus would not reveal what differences the group saw, he said the flaws are correctable.
Earlier in the season, Ausmus left the discussion between Verlander and Jones, but with Ausmus’ history as a catcher, he has since become more involved.
“JV, he’s open to discussions, anything to make him better,” Ausmus said. “I kind of, early on, Jonesy knows him, I kind of let them work on it, but recently Jonesy and I have talked more about it, I’ve kind of gotten a little more involved. Jonesy has the history with him, he knows Ver better than I do, and he knows his mechanics better than I, but that being said, I talked to Jonesy about it the last few days, and so we’ve kind of all gotten together on it.”
Verlander’s health has become a question, but he told reporters Monday he feels great, better than he did in April, when he was pitching better. Ausmus, however, said the core muscle repair surgery Verlander underwent in January could be affecting the ace in another way.
“Could some bad habits because of the injury, could they have crept into his mechanics and caused the issues?” Ausmus said. “Now that I think is a possibility, yes. And then you don’t even realize you’re doing something different, and you have to go to video, look at old video and look at new video and see if you can find any differences.”
Verlander will start working immediately on changing the aspects of his pitching that he, Jones and Ausmus identified. Making the adjustments, however, could take some time.
“Your body gets so used to doing one thing, it’s hard to train it to do something else,” Ausmus said. “In fact, sometimes you know exactly what you’re doing wrong, and you still can’t tell your body to do it the right way. I don’t know how long it would take him to make these adjustments. It could be, he might be able to make them really quickly, it might take a little bit of time. It’s really hard to tell.”