Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander had a rocky start to the season but has since regained form. While he is not his MVP-winning dominant self, he is keeping the promise he made to fans at the start of May.
The Detroit Tigers really needed Justin Verlander to pitch well in 2016. Things were looking bleak for JV at the beginning the season. After a rough April, Verlander has turned it around and is pitching like a new man. Though he is not his old Cy-Young-winning self, he is on track for a bounce-back season. While many experts will try and pinpoint a reason for JV’s success, fans need to see this is just a man keeping his promise.
Verlander finished April with a 5.46 ERA and a record of 2-2. For many pitchers that would be a solid month but in a struggling rotation this was an overwhelming disappointment for the $200 million man. His first start of May looked like the calendar had changed. Verlander pitched an absolute dub of a game, giving up seven runs in five innings to the Cleveland Indians.
JV was fed up. Frustrated, the Tigers ace took to social media to give the fans some reassurance. Verlander is very prominent on social media and uses many outlets such as Twitter and Instagram to voice opinions and interact with fans. On the evening following his first May start Verlander tweeted out a promise of domination to Tigers fans:
He has kept his promise to the fans. In his first start after his promise Verlander pitched seven innings of no-run baseball on Mother’s Day. Many fans thought it was the pink gear that gave him the boost but Verlander’s start was no coincidence. His next three starts have also been gems including an eight-inning complete game loss in Baltimore.
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Since taking to Twitter, Verlander has been exactly as he promised, dominant. In his 30.1 innings of work since May 3, Verlander has a 1.19 ERA, with 11K/9 and an opponents’ batting average of .155. After surrendering a home run in almost every prior start he has also only allowed one home run in his last four starts. To close out the game Tuesday, Verlander fired up his velocity to 97 mph in the eighth inning, completing his fourth consecutive 100+ pitch game. The bullpen has not helped Verlander, leaving him with 2 no-decisions. Still, win-loss record aside Verlander looks like one of the best pitchers in the American League right now.
While Verlander looks like a man on a mission, his recent domination can be attributed to more than just his determination. Verlander has recently added a cutter to his arsenal. What was originally believed to be a harder slider, the boost in average slider velocity from 86 mph to 88 mph indicates a much harder pitch.
The cutter breaks in the same direction as the slider but with more velocity and less movement. While Verlander’s slider is still an effective pitch, his cutter allows for more late tailing action and a change of speed from his 12-6 curveball.
The addition of the cutter has made JV more effective and is all part of the process of reinventing himself as a pitcher. If he keeps this pace up for a few more starts, Verlander will have all of the Tigers Nation convinced he is back to being the ace the Tigers need him to be. One thing is for certain, Justin Verlander has kept his promise to Detroit Tigers fans.