Heading into the 2013 ALCS, the Detroit Tigers are looking like the most experienced team in the playoffs right now. Having made three straight ALCS appearances, the Tigers will be leaning on Justin Verlander to get them back to the World Series for the second consecutive season.
Many people have been criticizing Verlander throughout the season, calling his career “on the way down”. Well, the playoffs have come around and the eighth-year pitcher has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Verlander had a 3.46 ERA during the regular season with a 13-12 record just two seasons removed from his Cy Young campaign and one year after his 2.64 ERA and 17-win season. Usually the Tigers ace would be considered the most reliable pitcher on staff, but that hasn’t been the case in 2013. Max Scherzer is the likely Cy Young award winner in 2013 and has been the best pitcher in the Tigers’ rotation with a 21-3 record and sub-three ERA.
With the ALDS on the line, Verlander was the Tigers’ last resort in the final game of the series. Detroit has relied heavily on Verlander in the postseason for the past seven years and he has done nothing but deliver. Through 15 innings in the 2013 playoffs, the pitcher has been dominant. Returning to the form he had just a season ago, JV’s ERA has been non-existent for the past month, not allowing a run since Sept. 18.
Not allowing the run in the ALDS was exactly what Detroit needed and his 21 strikeouts have shown his absolute dominance. If the Tigers want to move forward and win games, Verlander must be the same pitcher he has been in the past month and in the previous seasons. If he struggles, so will the Tigers.