The postseason-ready Justin Verlander has arrived, and just in the nick of time. After Verlander’s dominant performance against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, Detroit Tigers fans can feel a little more at ease heading into the postseason. The past two seasons Justin Verlander has played average baseball; an ERA of 2.64 in 2012 ballooned up to 3.46 in 2013 and rose even further this season, currently sitting at 4.54. But one thing has remained constant despite his regular season ups and downs; his postseason dominance. And with a promising start just before the playoffs, it seems as though Verlander is ready to continue his October reign.
In both 2012 an 2013, Verlander didn’t do anything that blew our baseball savvy minds. He just played average ball. But then the postseason rolls around and he’s lights out. And the way things are shaping up, the same could be said for this season. Verlander has certainly struggled, posting the 2nd highest ERA of his career (4.68) and a record of 14-12 shows just how inconsistent he has been at times.
The word clutch is defined as “a critical situation in which the outcome of a game or competition is at stake.” Postseason Justin Verlander is clutch, and the numbers show it.
In 15 career postseason starts, Verlander has a 3.28 ERA; but more importantly, his playoff numbers have gotten increasingly better over the years. In 2006, a young and stubble-less Justin Verlander was pounded in the playoffs, surrendering 14 ER’s in just 4 starts. That’s good for an ERA just South of 6 (5.82).
But with age and experience, Justin Verlander has become somewhat of a reincarnated Bob Gibson as soon as the calendar hits October. See for yourself:
2012 Postseason Stats:
Innings Pitched: 28.1
2013 Postseason Stats:
Innings Pitched: 23.0
Some of those numbers are absolutely insane; a 0.39 ERA in the 13′ postseason and a 3-1 record in 4 games during 12′. Don’t forget that he also had 60 strikeouts in 7 postseason games spanning from 12′ to 13′ against a very potent New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics lineup.
“The biggest question is whether or not Verlander continue his postseason dominance”
At this point in time, all signs point to yes. This pattern of being “just okay” in the regular season and kicking it up in the playoffs has worked the past two years, why would all that end?
After holding the White Sox to 1 run through 8 innings on Thursday, it looks like JV knows what time of the year it is. And with an 81% first strike rate on Wednesday, this was Justin’s best performance of the season. It’s also worth noting that something was different on Wednesday, there seemed to be a certain enigma in Verlander that we have not seen all year; a smorgasbord of aggression, if you will.
Something that we Tiger fans haven’t seen in a while. Justin Verlander loves to win and he knows what it takes to do so; say what you want about the former MVP but this man knows how to play the game when every game counts.