Detroit Tigers: The Return Of Must See JV
Three years ago next week the Detroit Tigers gave Justin Verlander a record contract extension through 2019 averaging $28 million per season. After two years of injuries and not reaching his potential, Verlander looks poised to dominate once again in 2016.
The buzz this Spring surrounding Justin Verlander could not be more different than the last time the Detroit Tigers Ace was in Lakeland.
This time last year, Verlander was having plenty of trouble finding his pitches and velocity while claiming he was fully recovered from the core surgery he underwent prior to the 2014 season. Doing his best to maintain he was healthy and on track to pitch at a high level, Verlander was eventually scratched from the rest of his spring training starts and ultimately ended up on the disabled list to start the 2015 campaign.
Things weren’t looking good for Verlander and the Tigers organization. Upon his return from the disabled list, Verlander was smacked around by almost everyone, most notably the New York Yankees in his second start, where he gave up three home runs including one to Alex Rodriguez, which was his 3000th career hit. The “Noon-to-6” curveball was hanging in the zone and his fastball was like batting practice to opposing hitters.
But halfway through the year, primarily after the All-Star game, it began to look like Verlander’s core had finally healed along with the forearm/triceps muscle that was giving him problems earlier in the year.
His second half numbers were one of the lone bright spots down the stretch as the Tigers slowly faded out of AL Central contention. His strikeouts per 9 innings (8.30) last year were very comparable to his Cy Young days and his 1.00 WHIP was even lower than the 2012 MVP winning season. Combined with the 2.80 ERA Verlander held down the second half of the season, looking towards 2016 was looking much more bright.
Now that we’re only a few weeks away from Opening Day, things are still on track for Verlander to make 2016 one of the best seasons of his career. He’s been named the Opening Day starter for the first time in three seasons, and has shown this spring he’s ready to take the AL Central crown back from World Series Champion Kansas City Royals.
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Before having some troubles against National League MVP Bryce Harper on Sunday, (Verlander allowed home runs in back-to-back at-bats vs Harper) JV has been almost untouchable this spring. In his 3 previous outings totaling nine innings of work, Verlander had only given up three total hits and was dominating batters. His pitch count continues to steadily increase this spring, as he has two more scheduled starts before heading to face the Marlins.
If the Tigers can get Verlander back to “Must See JV” mode this season and can rely on him for that almost guaranteed win every fifth day, Tigers management will have a lot less stress not having to worry about a $28 million arm adding to the loss column on a regular basis.
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