Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wild Thing no More

Much has been made about the struggles of Justin Verlander over last year and the beginning of this year. Clearly someone with his stuff should not be posting a 5.00+ ERA last year and so far a 9 ERA this year. Nobody quite knows what is wrong. Some say he is tired after throwing more innings then he ever has and they may be right. Some say he is hiding an injury and there's no way to be certain unless your a trainer in the Tigers club house on that. One other possibility that I have not heard thrown around is that maybe Verlander is trying to hard to be a pitcher and not a thrower. As an analogy, take the Major League movies. Wild Thing Vaughn's game was all about overpowering hitters with his nearly unhittable fastball. When he started to try to throw other pitches to preserve his arm and become a pitcher not a thrower in ML 2, he couldn't get it done. What we have seen from Verlander is a decrease in velocity from 98 to 99 which he rarely hits nowadays to working in the 94 to 96 range. Tigers announcers write this off as Leyland being in his ear telling him his fastball works better with movement at 94-96. I beg to differ. His fastball doesn't have a lot of movement no matter what speeds he is working at and his fastball is a lot more hittable at 94. On top of this, his breaking ball becomes much more hittable because there is no longer as much of a speed differential between the two pitches which is much of what makes breaking stuff so hard to hit. Verlander needs to, if hes healthy, start going back to what worked for him when he was rookie of the year and was the ace of this staff and start uncorking triple digit fastballs that leave batters in their dust.

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