Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander Could Win Cy Young Award

Aug 16, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 16, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander has been excellent so far in 2016. The longest-tenured member of the Tigers could take home his second Cy Young award.

Detroit Tigers fans have witnessed a number of different accolade-winning pitchers don the club’s uniform in years past.

Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and David Price all had Cy Young awards on their respective resumes when pitching for the Tigers. What’s more, Anibal Sanchez won the 2013 ERA title in the American League.

Verlander has been particularly successful in terms of finishing highly in the voting for the award given to baseball’s best pitcher.

The veteran finished fifth in the voting back in 2007 and came in third place in 2009 before taking home the award in 2011. The following season, Verlander just finished second to his future teammate in Price.

That 2012 campaign was the last in which Verlander received votes for the Cy Young award. However, things could change this season.

Since Opening Day, Verlander has been the sole consistent in the Detroit Tigers rotation.

Shane Greene failed to stick in the rotation, while Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey struggled mightily at times. What’s more, Jordan Zimmermann has spent a significant amount of time on the disabled list.

Young pitchers Michael Fulmer, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris have all been particularly impressive, however none of the trio started the season in the rotation.

Detroit has consistently been able to pencil in Verlander every five days, and the 33-year-old has delivered.

Verlander leads the Tigers in wins, innings pitched, FIP and strikeouts. He’s also leading the American League in a number of categories as well, putting him in prime position to contend for (and possibly win) another Cy Young award.

Numbers so Far

Detroit Tigers
Aug 10, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Entering Monday, Verlander leads the American league in innings pitched at 173.1. He’s also third in the junior circuit in strikeouts per nine innings with a 9.40 number.

Continuing the strikeout trend, Verlander is also third in the American League in K% at 26.1%.

If you prefer run and base-runner prevention numbers, Justin Verlander is excelling there as well. His xFIP (17th) ERA (12th), FIP (ninth) and SIERA (seventh) all rank among the elite in his league.

The longtime Tiger’s 2.34 walks per nine inning ranks 15th in the American League. He also checks in at 23rd in terms of the fewest home runs allowed per nine innings at 1.14.

However, one of the most telling stats of all is WHIP. Verlander is tied with Chicago starter Chris Sale for the best in the American League. The right-hander owns a 1.03 WHIP this season.

What’s more, the starter has proved his value where WAR is concerned. Only Corey Kluber, Masahiro Tanaka, Jose Quintana and Sale have posted higher WAR stats than Verlander.

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Second Half Stats

While there are a number of other pitchers around the league in the midst of equally fantastic seasons, the Detroit Tigers pitcher has a chance to claim the Cy Young if can continue his stellar form.

Verlander has been in excellent form in the season’s second half. Per the FanGraphs leaderboards, the starter has been on tremendous form in the second part of the season.

Only Danny Duffy’s 1.6 WAR top’s Verlander’s 1.5 WAR. The Detroit ace is also second in the American League in innings pitched with 56.

The Tigers ace is also in the top 10 in the American League in ERA (1.93, fifth), SIERA (3.34, sixth), strikeouts per nine innings (9.80, sixth) and FIP (3.11, seventh). He ranks 12th in xFIP with a 3.73 number.

In Conclusion

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If Justin Verlander can continue to pitch at an elite level, it is very possible that the Detroit Tigers pitcher can claim his second Cy Young award. With the rotation starting to come together, Verlander’s form could also propel his team back into the playoffs