Mar 26, 2014; Clearwater, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) warms up for the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in a spring training exhibition game at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
The next time we see Justin Verlander on the mound, it will be in chilly Detroit, Michigan for Opening Day. Verlander finished his spring campaign this afternoon in Clearwater, Florida with 6.1 innings of vintage JV work as the Detroit Tigers shut out the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0.
It wasn’t a banner day for the bats, but we were once again reminded how good this Tigers team can be based only on their pitching staff. Today it was Verlander being Verlander, going 6.1 innings, striking out seven batters, walking one, allowing one hit, and keeping the opponent off the board. The outing wrapped up a scoreless spring for Justin. His final line:
20 IP, 17 SO (7.7 K/9), 5 BB (2.3 BB/9), 8 H (0.65 WHIP), 0 R (0.00 ERA)
Phil Coke was the first pitcher on in relief for Verlander this afternoon. Today was the deadline for his partial-salary release, but he was instead on the mound. His day ended with one strikeout and one walk in 0.2 innings.
Coke has had a non-terrible spring — his peripheral strikeout and walk rates at least look fine — but he’s still given up an awful lot of hits (which was his problem lasat year as well). As Chris Iott points out, he’s going to be on the Opening Day roster, but he hasn’t yet installed confidence that he’s going to be particularly effective. I’m going to say that he’s due for BABIP regression, but who knows.
Following Coke to finish out the game were Al Alburquerque (1.0 IP, 2 SO, 1 H) and Blaine Hardy (1.0 IP, 1 BB). Hardy is sporting a 2.19 ERA this spring, but there isn’t any substance there. His strikeout rate is terrible (5.6 K/9) and he’s walking far too many batters (4.0 BB/9). At the risk of over-valuing spring results, I don’t see any reason that he’s still in camp.
Offensively, this game was a snoozer following the top of the first inning. Ian Kinsler, the second batter of the game, tripled off of lefty Cliff Lee and then immediately scored on a Miguel Cabrera ground out. No one would cross the plate (for either team) for the rest of the game.
The Tigers will head back to Lakeland tomorrow to take on the Atlanta Braves. Max Scherzer will be the scheduled starting pitcher.