Isn’t it weird to live in a world where the Indians own Justin Verlander?
Over the past two seasons the Tribe is 5-0 against Verlander, beating up him to the tune of a 5.40 ERA in those five outings.
It wasn’t that long ago that the tables were turned. The Tigers once won six straight Verlander starts against the Tribe during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. And from 2009-11, the Tigers were 10-2 against us with Verlander on the mound.
As bad as Verlander looks, I wouldn’t bet on this being the end of him. But the longer he struggles, the more concerned Detroit should be.
Ok, that sounds pretty obvious, but hear me out…
Verlander is no longer a power pitcher, but even in his prime he was much more than just a power pitcher. Yes, he could throw the ball by you but the elite pitchers in the game—which Verlander certainly was during his peak—know how to use location and off-speed stuff to keep hitters off balance.
It’s this ability to keep hitters guessing which prolongs careers once the power stuff declines. And while Verlander would normally be a pitcher you assume would figure it out, we’re going on three years now of him struggling to find that groove.
Bartolo Colon is perhaps the best example of this transformation, which Verlander is attempting.
Colon once racked up 212 Ks in just 188 innings. But over the past five seasons—arguably the most consistent five-year stretch of his career—he’s managed just 6.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
Verlander is basically at the stage Colon was at during the tail end of his career with the Angels, struggling to stay healthy while grappling the frustration that stems from losing something off the fastball. Now the question is, can Verlander embrace his role as a finesse middle-of-the-rotation starter or will he just fade away?
Other thoughts and notes on Tuesday’s victory….
- I’m shocked by Francisco Lindor‘s continued success (3-4, HR on Tuesday). He was so bad against off-speed pitches last year that I assumed pitchers would adjust and he’d limp through his sophomore year. But by some miracle, Lindor’s the one that adjusted. He’s batting .389 against off-speed pitchers. That’s a stunning adjustment for such a young hitter. Hopefully it keeps up.
- Carlos Santana was 0-2 but worked two walks in his return to the top of the order. I’m not completely sold on him in the leadoff spot, but I do like Francona mixing things up. I’m opening to watching this play out for a while longer.
- The Tigers are paying Verlander $28M this season. That’s almost double what the Indians are paying their top six starting pitchers ($14.2M). There are a lot of haters out there when it comes to the Indians front office, but they do an amazing job getting production from their limited budget.
- The Tribe is 4-0 against the Tigers. But let’s not get too excited. They started 5-0 against Detroit in 2012 and finished the season 68-94.
And I’ll leave you with this replay of Lindor’s blast.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) May 4, 2016