September Not a Bad Time for Justin Verlander to be having his Best Month


Sep 23, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander (35) delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers lost last night to the Minnesota Twins in extra innings, but Tigers fans can take solace in the fact that Justin Verlander looked about as dominant as we’ve seen him all year. The Tigers starter went only six innings, but he struck out 12 batters and didn’t allow a run to score against him.

I don’t really like it when people say that Verlander has ‘struggled’ this year – his 3.56 ERA is none too bad – but it is fair to say that he hasn’t pitched up to his usual standard. We’ve been waiting and hoping all season that he’d find his old self, and now we’re perhaps seeing signs that he’s doing just that.

Here’s a look at JV’s monthly splits this year (with last year’s totals at the bottom):

He started well out of the gate in April before reportedly loosing his feel mechanically in the middle months. Since that solid month of April (in which his velocity seemed abnormally low), he hasn’t had anything resembling his stellar 2011 and 2012 seasons until September when he’s pretty much matched his previous success rate in every category.

His average pitch velocity for 2012 (according to FanGraphs) was 94.7 mph. He started out this season with a 92.7 mph April, but he’s averaged 94.8 and 94.9 with his heater in the last two months respectively (according to Brooks Baseball). Velocity isn’t a perfect indicator of anything, but it’s probably a fair proxy for how good his “stuff” is, and it’s certainly not a bad sign that he has basically regained his lost velocity.

Will he continue to be the Verlander of old heading into the playoffs? We have no way of knowing. But I’d much rather have this Verlander than the Verlander of the last four months now that we’re standing on the doorstep of October.