Oct 3, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws a pitch against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning of game two of the 2014 ALDS playoff baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
#4: Can Justin Verlander bounce back in 2015?
SPOILER ALERT! One of the issues we will not touch on because it may or may not affect the Tigers is if Max Scherzer will be back with the team in 2015. There is no way of knowing if that will happen or not so we must go under the assumption that since Max is not currently on the roster that he won’t be on the roster.
That, of course, could change, but we should focus on the one ace we have rather than one of the aces we might have. Justin Verlander is the ace we have. Although for the last two regular seasons he has not pitched like an ace pitcher.
And no one knows this more than Verlander, who has pledged that he will put last season’s struggles behind him. Gone are the days of a youthful J.V. blowing away batters with his blazing fastball and/or vexing off-speed pitches. When he was on, he didn’t have to worry much about location, but now as he gets older and the hitters catch up, location becomes very important.
The key to Justin’s success for the remainder of his long-term contract is to adapt. It is hard to adapt in-season and after surgery just months before the season started. With a full off-season on his specialized off-season regiment, and having the ability to fine tune his skills, I would expect Justin Verlander to be a workhorse again. He may not be as dynamic and “Must See J.V.” as he once was, but he will once again fill the role of ace of the staff.
With or without Scherzer, this is important.
Without Scherzer and a still tattered Verlander would make it very tough for Detroit to compete in the AL Central in 2015.
On to #3…