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MLB Detroit Tigers

AL Central Race: Justin Verlander Not Enough for Detroit Tigers

Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

2013 has been an up and down season for Justin Verlander, and his start against the Minnesota Twins Monday was a perfect example.

Verlander held the Twins to six hits and three walks over six innings pitched and didn’t allow a run.  He also struck out 12 batters and probably thought there was a good chance at notching his 14th win of the season, seeing as the Detroit Tigers held a 3-0 lead after he left the game, but the bullpen cost the Tigers the game and a shot at dropping their magic number to one.

Verlander’s 13-12 record leaves a bit to be desired, especially when you consider the monster salary the Tigers gave him in the offseason. In his last 14 starts, Verlander has only thrown six scoreless innings or more on two occasions.

September has been a good month for Verlander in the recent past. He posted a 1.93 ERA in September of 2012 and 2.55 in 2011. After Monday’s 4-3 loss against the Twins, Verlander’s ERA sits at 3.56 in five starts this month. While the win-loss category might not show it, Verlander has been the Tigers’ best starter for the last month. He has a 3.03 ERA over that span and 41 strikeouts to 12 walks.

The Tigers haven’t gotten the best Verlander this season, but it hasn’t been that bad either. Starts have gotten away from him, but he has been in damage-control mode multiple times this season and still given his team a chance to win. While he certainly hasn’t been the team’s MVP this season, he has  been a valuable member of the Tigers’ rotation.

Verlander has more playoff experience than any of the Tigers’ starters, and he needs to start to lead the way again now that crunch time has arrived. He needs to continue to bring his “A” game in his final starts to make fans comfortable with his $20 million salary this season and the big contract he signed this season.

Otherwise, they might start to question the team’s decision.

David Fouty is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @davefouty, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.