Detroit Tigers: Buyers or sellers? Justin Verlander’s future? MCB staff discusses
By Matt Pelc
Jul 10, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcherJustin Verlander
(35) pitches to the Minnesota Twins in the 1st inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
What, if anything, can the Tigers do to get Justin Verlander back to being a consistently reliable starter? Should they consider moving him to the bullpen?
Steve: Verlander wasn’t ready to come back to the big leagues and was rushed. I am sure that the untold story that we aren’t privy to had a lot to do with agents and egos. Had he stayed down I think he would’ve returned to a form that we saw him pitch in Friday nights outing against the Twinkies sooner. He will be a reliable starter. Not an ace, but a reliable starter. Matt and Dave discussed in Tiger Talk that JV needs to master some new pitches and I believe in the off season he will do just that. JV will be a strong number two pitcher for the Tigers. Sanchez a strong number three. The Tigers need their ace and they will have a chance to get him (it won’t be Price) in the off season. JV will eventually end up in the bullpen further down in his career, but not now.
Zane: I think Justin Verlander may be back, in some form. It seems unlikely that he wins another MVP trophy any time soon, but he showed the ability to pitch effectively against Toronto before things got away from him, and then he was brilliant against the Twins in his last time out. To me, Justin Verlander is the least of the Tigers’ worries, and should not be moved to the bullpen.
Matt P.: I was encouraged by his start, but I was not encouraged by the way his injury was handled and the excuses made by and for him. The team, team’s announcers and Justin Verlander kept saying it was “Spring Training” for him. That might be true, but there is such a thing as “extended Spring Training.” If Verlander and/or the Tigers thought he had to do some on the job re-training, why was he on the big league roster? If this team fancies themselves a contender, they are risking losing precious games in the pennant chase by putting a “still in Spring Training J.V.” out there. His first and last start put the team in a position to win, but his middle three games were disasters.
Verlander needs to understand that he is not Verlander of 2011 and 2012. He needs to rely more on his secondary pitches and use some craftiness and veteran know-how to record outs. The days of blowing batters away on a regular basis when he gets into trouble are over. If this happens, he can be a solid number 2-3 starter through the length of his contract. If not, all bets are off.
One thing is for sure–the Tigers have way too much invested in him to make him a reliever.
Blair: At this stage of his career, there’s nothing anybody outside of Verlander can do to get him back on the rails. As mentioned, his last start was encouraging and his velocity was fine. It’s too early to talk about moving him to the bullpen. He must be given the balance of the season to work things out. If he recaptures his consistency in the second half and the team retains Price, suddenly the Big Three (with Anibal Sanchez) looks pretty good.
Dave: No because they don’t have a replacement for him in the rotation. Unfortunately, Verlander is the least of the Tigers problems right now. He did pitch well in his last start, so hopefully moving forward he continues that. The Tigers need better pitching from their No. 4 and No. 5 starters.
Tom Z.: Verlander should not go to the bullpen. He has the stuff to be a starter, but he has to figure out how to use it. Although Friday night’s numbers looked good, Verlander got away with a lot of pitches up in the zone and over the plate. His breaking stuff is some of the best I remember it being. If he takes some velocity off of his fastball and relies on his breaking pitches, Verlander can be effective. He just has to locate his pitches and not fall in love with his fastball like he did against the Blue Jays when he was rocked.
Tom P.: Verlander was a throwback which is why I have always been a fan. He could start strong then control the game through the middle innings. Once he reached the seventh or eighth inning out would come the power fastball again, 98 to 100 MPH and completely unhittable. He’s 32 years old and because of arm problems plus the stage of career he’s in, those days are gone.
That’s not to say his days of bringing heat are over but he has to pick his spots and be more willing to use his other pitches. Look at last Friday against the Twins. He was masterful. It was the bullpen that blew up the game. Let’s hope we see more of that in the second half.
As for the question about possibly moving him to the bullpen, not for $28 million a season they’re not.
Matt S.: Have him talk to John Smoltz, maybe? Get ex-girlfriend Emily Yuen back? I really have no idea. I feel like he doesn’t listen to anybody, and would be so upset if asked to go to the bullpen he would give up all together.
Next: First half MVP? Most disappointing?