Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Will Justin Verlander’s stubbornness be his downfall? – John Paul Morosi, Fox Sports
“Scouts who have watched Verlander wonder if it might be time to borrow a page from Halladay’s since-retired scouting binder: two-seamers down, rather than four-seamers up. But Monday night, at least, Verlander sounded like a man who believes such drastic change in philosophy would be an act of surrender.
Really, we should be able to understand why he feels that way. A year ago, many of us would have said he was the best pitcher in the world. He achieved that status with a powerful repertoire, pristine durability (even as of today, he’s never been on the disabled list in the majors), and singular capacity to increase velocity in the eighth and ninth innings. It’s asking a lot of an athlete to give up what made him great — and extraordinary wealthy. Clearly, Verlander isn’t ready to do that.
But that begs the question: If the most recent stretch hasn’t convinced him otherwise, what possibly could? Barely more than 14 months ago, the Tigers handed Verlander a five-year, $140 million contract extension that won’t begin until next season. With financial stakes that massive, who in the Tigers’ orbit has the clout to pull Verlander aside and tell him that he must do something different on the mound?”
“What’s wrong with Justin Verlander?” could easily be the narrative of the most recent part of the season. To be fair, the same could be said for many other players on the team as well, but that’s irrelevant. Morosi seems to think that if Dave Dombrowski wanted Justin Verlander to alter his approach he would be completely unwilling to do so and I don’t really buy that. Verlander struggled before, granted not quite so hard, but he came around and got going when he was really needed, the question is how long can we wait for the turn around, and what happens if it doesn’t come?
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The Justin Verlander Hypothesis – Neil Weinberg, New English D
“Verlander’s not getting into as many two strike counts as he used to, but when he does, he’s really not putting hitters away like he should. His strikeout rate when he gets two strikes on a batters used to be in the 40-45% range (even last year) but it’s in the 32% range this year. By my estimate, that’s a difference of 16 strikeouts already this year, not to mention the cascading effect of allowing fewer baserunners and extending fewer innings.
It’s not just one thing, but Verlander isn’t adjusting his two strike approach to account for his different quality arsenal. Throw in 16 more strikeouts and cut back the two strike home runs and his FIP sits at about 3.46. You can’t just say if this had happened then this would have certainly happened, but you can easily see how much of an effect this could have.
Long term, Verlander will be fine. In the short term, it’s time to start thinking about how he approaches hitters. He’s right that the stuff is good, but he’s wrong that he can pitch like he did as a 28 year old forever. The problem, perhaps, is that Verlander isn’t broken so he can’t accept that a change is needed.”
Justin Verlander is a hot topic floating around in the unrest and unhappiness of the Tigers’ fan base during this dark time of terrible starting pitching and inconsistent offense. Weinberg lays out the stats, and the suggestion is along the same lines as Morosi’s, Verlander needs to start relying on different pitches at different times in order to retire batters, and he’s not getting any younger, so now is as good a time as any to start working on that.
Could Ben Zobrist end up in Detroit? – Sean Heyboer, Bless You Boys
“Ben Zobrist has a lot of things working for him, on and off the baseball field. However, comparing him to Don Kelly, even in jest, is not really fair considering the type of player he is. Sure, he can play almost every position on the field at a high level of success, but he is also a pretty great hitter. Since 2009, Zobrist has averaged 4.7 oWAR per season, peaking at 6.1. He has a lifetime batting average of .262 and can hit double-digit home runs regularly from both the right and left side of the plate. He is a great base-runner, and has above-average speed, too.
Wouldn’t he look great penciled into the number five slot in the Tigers lineup?
Maybe the most important number of all is his salary. Zobrist has a $7 million option for next season, which is very affordable for a team likes the Tigers. Picking up that option is almost as close as you can get to a guarantee.”
Adding Ben Zobrist to the Detroit Tigers lineup would be an unbelievable move for the Tigers, but the biggest question is what the Tigers would have to give up in return. Tampa Bay loves Zobrist, he’s a part of the community and pretty great baseball player.