It probably has been the biggest question of the past season and a half: what is wrong with Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander?
Actually, the bigger question is what is wrong with the Tigers, but that’s a different story.
As you probably see by now, this isn’t an article to talk about a good surprise as Verlander has been far from himself since signing his big contract extension before the 2013 season.
Now, it would’ve been easy to sit here and talk about how closer Joe Nathan has been a huge let down for the Tigers this season but at this point, almost the entire bullpen is to blame for a good chunk of the Tigers struggles as the bullpen has been their biggest weakness.
That being said though, their starting rotation was considered to be one of the best in the game.
When you have guys like Verlander and pitcher Max Scherzer, both Cy Young award winners, leading the way and having talented pitchers like Drew Smyly and Rick Porcello who are young and have a lot to offer, how can that not look like a strong pitching core?
So far during this up and down season, Verlander is 6-6 with an ERA of 4.61. To add onto that, Verlander has allowed five or more earned runs in five of his last six starts. Those are not Verlander-like numbers.
Verlander at one point in his career was considered the best pitcher not only in the American League, but in the game. The same year he won the Cy Young in 2011, he won the MVP title as well. While this award was looked at controversial to many, Verlander did a lot to help lead his team to the ALCS only to eventually fall to the Texas Rangers in the series 4-2.
He continued his dominance into the 2012 season as he was a finalist for the Cy Young award again, only to lose to Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price.
But ever since then, Verlander has struggled. With a record of 13-12 and an ERA of 3.46 in 2013, the stats say that Verlander’s downfall has started since the contract extension signed prior to the start of the previous season.
Could this be a case of a man getting his money so his play diminishes? Possibly. As a Tigers fan though, I hope it isn’t and I really don’t think it is. It could be the case of teams starting to figure out Verlander.
At the end of the day though, Verlander is the leader of that rotation.
He is their guy who they plan to keep around for years and hopefully finish his career as a Tiger. He is their Ace.
If there is any pitcher in the game who can figure out how to turn it around, it’s Verlander.