Aug 6, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) delivers in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Verlander has struggled a bit this year and many people have given their opinions on why he has not had his best stuff. The latest to throw in his opinion was former major leaguer and St. Louis sports radio host Jack Clark. Clark accused former St. Louis Cardinal and now Los Angeles Angel, Albert Pujols and the Tigers’ pitcher of using Performance enhancing drugs.
In a story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Clark said he had firsthand knowledge that Pujols received PED’s from his trainer while in St. Louis. He did not have the same knowledge about Verlander, but why not take a stab as the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP and runner up for the Cy Young in 2012.
Clark said, “Verlander was like Nolan Ryan, he threw 97, 98, 100 miles an hour from the first inning to the ninth inning, got that big contract, now he can barely reach 92, 93. What happened to it? He has no arm problems, nothing’s wrong. It’s just the signs are there. The greed … they juice up, they grab the money and it’s just a free pass to steal is the way I look at it.”
Let’s start from the top and dissect this accusation bit by bit.
Verlander was like Nolan Ryan
Alright, that comparison is not to wild. Verlander threw hard and was successful just as Ryan was, but does that mean the Nolan Ryan used PED’s? Let’s just accuse everyone who has ever been successful of cheating the game.
he threw 97, 98, 100 miles an hour from the first to the ninth inning
Justin Verlander threw 97, 98, 100 mph consistently in one game last year, the All Star Game. Verlander was known to start in the low 90’s through the first three innings, then pitch in the mid 90’s through the middle innings, and then get up to 97, 98, and 100 at the end of the game or to get out of a jam. According to Fangraphs, Verlander’s average fastball velocity was 95.6 in 2009, 95.5 in 2010, 95.0 in 2011 when he was the Cy Young and MVP, and 94.7 in 2012 when he finished second for the Cy Young. If he was throwing 97 and up in every inning, wouldn’t that average be higher?
got that big contract,
Just because someone got the big paycheck, does not mean that they would stop using even if you want to walk down that road.
now he can barely reach 92, 93.
Verlander’s average fastball velocity this season is 93.3 mph. Yes, that velocity is down and that has been well documented. In his last start, BrooksBaseball documented Verlander’s an average fastball speed of 96.86 mph and maxed out at 100.75 mph. He can barely reach 93 though. Maybe his arm is a little bit tired after throwing as many innings as he has over the past few years and throwing as many pitches as he did over 95 mph.
What happened to it? He has no arm problems, nothing’s wrong.
Verlander has not pitched under 200 innings since being in the big leagues. In 2006, he threw 186.0 innings in the regular season, but another 21.2 in the playoffs. In 2007 and 2008, he pitched 201 innings. Since 2009, Verlander has thrown 240, 224.1, 251, and 238 innings in the regular season. In 2011 and 2012 when the Tigers made the playoffs, Verlander pitched another 48.2 innings. Put that all together and you get 1,580 innings pitched since 2006. Verlander is 30, pitchers lose velocity as they age and have to learn how to pitch with less velocity. I would be more concerned of PED use if the velocity was increasing, not decreasing.
It’s just the signs are there. The greed … they juice up, they grab the money and it’s just a free pass to steal is the way I look at it.
What signs are there? As a pitcher ages and averages 225 innings a season, he won’t have the same velocity on his fastball? The sign that I see is a sports radio host that played in the major leagues and wants to be relevant again. The greed that I see is the greed of someone who wants to be talked about and wants to be interviewed. The use of the word “they” is also interesting. You accuse Pujols and Verlander, two players who have not performed well since getting new contracts and it is automatically because of PED use. If these two were so greedy, their egos would not allow them to stop using the drugs.
This accusation is pretty surprising and it’s interesting that it came the week of the Biogenesis suspensions. This is absolutely no evidence that Verlander has ever used PED’s and he has never been linked to them. These accusations will go away in a week. It is a shame that we have to talk about this instead of talking about baseball and what happens on the field.