Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander Named American League Pitcher of the Month
By Ben Rosener
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander was excellent in July, returning to the form he displayed when he was a consistent Cy Young contender. The ace was named American League Pitcher of the month.
Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander is once again pitching like the Justin Verlander who dominated opposing hitters and consistently won 17-24 games in a season.
The 33-year-old has been terrific atop the Detroit rotation, pitching to an 11-6 record with 155 strikeouts in 147.1 innings pitched. Verlander’s ERA sits at 3.54, but the ace has been much better than that number would suggest.
A bad start against Pittsburgh (10 hits and seven runs allowed in 4.1 innings pitched) and two rough outings against Cleveland (17 hits and 15 runs allowed in a combined 9.2 innings pitched) have driven the longtime Tiger’s ERA up.
Additionally, the ERA should shrink as the calendar moves toward October.
In Verlander’s last six starts—all of which came in July—the starter lowered his ERA on the season by nearly half a run. In 42.2 innings pitched, the veteran posted a sparkling 1.69 ERA.
Opponents only hit .171, while posting a .486 OPS when facing Verlander in the month. Couple that with 48 strikeouts in 42.2 innings pitched and you get a month long, pitching masterclass.
Verlander was rewarded for his efforts by being named American League Pitcher of the Month in July. Detroit’s public relations Twitter account announced the move, tweeting, “Congratulations to @JustinVerlander on being named the American League Pitcher of the Month & Tigers Pitcher of the Month for July.”
Importance to the Team
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If Verlander can continue to pitch at this level all season, the Tigers will be in excellent shape where advancing in the playoffs is concerned. Whether in a five or seven-game series or in a wild card game, there isn’t a team out there that wants to face the Detroit ace when he’s on form.
The starting pitcher hasn’t just been superb for the Tigers, he’s also been the team’s only constant in the rotation.
Michael Fulmer and Jordan Zimmermann have impressed, but Fulmer started the season in the minors, while Zimmermann has spent time on the disabled list.
Additionally, Anibal Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey have been shifted from the rotation to the bullpen, and back to the rotation again while Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd have spent time in the minors.
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Verlander currently leads the team in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts and complete games. He also sits atop the rotation where FIP, strikeouts per nine innings and WHIP stats are concerned. Only Michael Fulmer has a higher WAR— which is 3.7, compared to Verlander’s 3.6 WAR. Fulmer is also the only starter on the staff with a lower ERA than Detroit’s longtime ace.