5 Detroit Tigers MVP Candidates for 2015

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Sep 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

#4: Justin Verlander

Back when Justin Verlander was at his zenith from 2009 through 2012, when the Detroit Tigers needed him to step up, he stepped up. If they were on a losing streak, he’s always serve as the stopper and start a winning streak.

With Max Scherzer off to greener pastures (pun intended), it has never been more important for vintage J.V. to return. Though no games have been played, it looks as if he’s ready to have at it.

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Verlander has had average to poor regular seasons the last two years. During that time the role of team “stopper” belonged to Scherzer in his Cy Young winning year of 2013 and stellar 2014 season. Verlander understands now that there is no longer the ace of the Tigers staff and the “Ace-1a” of the Tigers staff–it’s all on him.

Last week when reporting to Lakeland, Verlander stated that he feels better than he has in a number of years and truly believes the Jan. 2014 surgery negatively effected his performance. He made no excuses for it but has strived to be better, working on incorporating his curveball more often.

He still plans to go after hitters like he always has, but understands that if that doesn’t work now that he’s fully healthy, he will change and adapt his game.

I’d bet on Verlander coming back strong in 2015 and if he is at all Must See J.V., he can easily be the Tigers’ best player.