Detroit Tigers Links: Verlander better, no longer favs, Nathan comeback


Our links in today’s edition of Detroit Tigers’ Morning Links to kick off the week all go hand-and-hand.

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Much of the baseball world has ruled that the Tigers are a worse team than they were in 2014 for a number of reasons. Of course losing Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello dents one of the former strengths of the team, but certain other factors contribute as well.

One factor is that Justin Verlander has not looked much like himself in awhile. The last two regular seasons have been average, and that would seem to indicate a downward spiral. It is true that if Verlander is an average pitcher, the Tigers will likely not win in 2015. But Verlander himself is his greatest critic and he won’t sit quietly and watch his dominant career reach its conclusion. To that end, Justin is determined for, and predicts, a much better season.

Next Chris Iott dissects some more reasons why the Tigers aren’t overwhelming favorites anymore.

Another one of those reasons is Joe Nathan. He came with such promise a year ago. After so many Detroit closers have providing a nail-biting, rollercoaster ride, the veteran was supposed to stabilize that. That, of course, didn’t work out and Joe had the worst year of his career. Much like J.V., Nathan is determined to remake himself into a winner, and do the same for the Detroit Tigers.

Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander Predicts Much Better 2015 – Raymond Bureau, Vavel

"First, Verlander began reconditioning his body much earlier this offseason than he did last year. Recall that in early January last year, Verlander had surgery to repair strains in his core muscles, which include the abdominal muscles. He did not start throwing until well into Spring Training — more specifically, March 12. McCosky quoted Verlander stating just that: “Last year I hadn’t even picked up a ball at this point,” said Verlander, who is now throwing bullpen sessions twice a week, and Spring Training is still officially a few more days away.Verlander had to alter his delivery last year to compensate for the discomfort he had in recovering from the surgery. This year, he will not have that problem. According to McCosky, the ace has restrengthened those core muscles and then some. McCosky described the more-extensive conditioning program that Verlander has undergone this offseason. McCosky wrote,“Verlander has put on 20 pounds of muscle, and he’s back to his normal throwing regimen, including an impressive long-toss session with catcher Bryan Holaday on Thursday [February 12] where he was throwing clothes-line strikes from 120 feet….Whether that translates into a complete return to form remains to be seen, of course, but what is fact is that in mind and body, Verlander is miles ahead of where he was at this time last year. And that cannot be a bad thing for the Tigers.”"

Detroit Tigers head into spring with several question marks, no longer clear division favorites – Chris Iott, MLive

"The Tigers open spring training this week with several key players returning from injuries, uncertainty regarding Justin Verlander, a retooled starting rotation and a bullpen that still appears to have some holes in it. It’s clear that the 2015 version of the Tigers has more question marks than any Tigers team in recent years."

At 40, Tigers’ Joe Nathan still has ‘something to prove’ – Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press

"And Nathan has been burdened before. With shoulder injuries. Elbow injuries. Boos. But now, the Tigers’ closer is burdened with a fight against Father Time, and it’s heavy and weighing on his World Series chances.“Do I feel like I’m playing on bonus time?” he says. “No, because I still have something to prove. I’ve put the time in. I do this every year and, because of that, I feel like that’s why I’m still playing.”And if you had told him at the start of his career that he would have been pitching until he was 40, the sixth-round shortstop draft pick out of Stony Brook would have said, “I don’t think so.”There’s no retirement talk nowadays, his trainer says, but everybody wonders.How many more off-seasons does he have in him? Monday and Tuesday, front squats, lat pull-downs and ab wheels. Thursday and Friday, reverse lunges, chest-to-bar pull-ups and more ab wheels. Swim day on Wednesday."

Next: Bullpen arms that should be on Tigers' radar