Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander's Pitch Count Becomes Issue Again

By Connor Muldowney
Justin Verlander
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In yet another start, Justin Verlander pitches himself out of the game far before the Detroit Tigers would have hoped.

For the eighth time in 20 starts this season, Verlander pitched less than seven innings and allowed five or more runs for the fifth time in 2013. It’s safe to say that when the Tigers’ ace pitches less than seven innings, the team does not have success. In fact, when the All-Star pitcher pitches less than seven innings, the team is a mediocre 4-4.

Moreover, when Verlander allows five or more runs, the Tigers are 1-4. These are all new stats to the former MVP as he hasn’t had an ERA of over 3.00 since 2010 and has had only an ERA of at least 3.50 one time since 2008.

People seem to panic more than they should about the righty’s control and rise in ERA lately, but the fact is that he will be fine if he gets back to the basics. He knows how to throw a baseball and dominate batters and he knows that he’s not pitching to his potential, but sometimes he tries to overpower hitters and that’s when his real problems begin to surface.

Having only three games with less than 100 pitches this season, Verlander’s pitch count has become a serious issue. The lengths of pitchers’ careers are strictly based on their ability to stay fresh and stay away from elevated pitch counts — both of which Verlander needs to work on.

He knows that he throws far too many pitches for an ace that is expected to pitch at least seven innings per start, but he has to start fixing his approach before it’s too late.

Jim Leyland has allowed Verlander to throw over 110 pitches on 13 occasions this season where the Tigers have posted a 7-6 record and JV has lasted more than seven innings just twice.

It used to be the norm where Verlander would pitch eight innings and hand the ball over to the closer or even stay in the game to see if he could finish it off in the ninth, but with an overused arm, it’s time for him to stop overpowering and start strategically pitching. I’m not saying, by any means, to quit throwing 100 mph fastballs. But when the time calls for them to happen, make them happen. He needs to stop doing that after he gives up a few runs and throws them out of anger.

The Kansas City Royals got the best of Verlander once again on Saturday night, but he will be back.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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