Honorable Mention: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Oct 3, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) reacts after a two-run home run by Baltimore Orioles right fielderNick Markakis
(not pictured) during the third inning of game two of the 2014 ALDS playoff baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Everybody calm down….
I know, we’ve all been frustrated with Justin Verlander these past couple of seasons, but it seems as though this will be the year in which the former AL MVP returns to form.
Motor City Bengals’ very own Tom Zahari believes Verlander can bounce back and look like him old self:
"I believe that core surgery led to most of Verlander’s struggles in 2014. He did not have the same off-season regimen, and his average fastball velocity took a steeper decline than previous years, from 94.0 to 93.1 m.p.h. from 2013 to 2014, compared with 95.0 to 94.7 from 2011 to 2012 and 94.7 to 94.0 from 2012 to 2013. I don’t expect Verlander’s velocity to shoot back up to 94 or 95 on average, but he still can reach back for the mid- to upper-90s when he needs it."
It’s strange, though, as Verlander hasn’t been as bad as everybody think; he was 15-12 last season, with a 4.54 ERA. The year before, he was 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA. We all know what he’s capable of, and Verlander himself believes he’s recaptured his past self: “I’ve added 20 pounds of muscle…and my pitching motion already feels more fluid than it did a year ago. It was great having an uninterrupted off-season of training and conditioning.”
He is more than capable of dominating hitters, and I predict this will be the “Summer of JV.”
Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals
Oct 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning during game six of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The 23 year-old Ventura took the division by storm in 2014 racking up 14 wins and placing sixth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting; he also lent a helping hand in the Royals’ miraculous postseason run. The potential that this young man holds is indescribable, as he is durable (183 IP in 14′) and consistent (3.20 ERA). Ventura did all this in his first full season and it would be expected for his success to continue as he matures. With Ventura, it only seems to be uphill from here.