Justin Verlander is recovering from core muscle surgery this past offseason, but Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus believes that he will make his Spring Training debut sometime next week.
So, what can fans expect from from the former Cy Young winner? One of the biggest issues with Verlander so far has been that he has been erratic while throwing from the mound. This can obviously be attributed to having his core muscles not be 100 percent used to the twisting and whipping of a pitcher’s body as he throws the ball. So, do not be surprised if Verlander gives up at least two walks during his short outing. Also, batters will probably be making more solid contact off his pitches than Detroit fans are used to seeing. Even if they end up as outs, they will probably be tough outs.
One can speculate that Verlander will probably be reaching back for a little more as he faces batters from a different team rather than his teammates in live BP sessions. As a result of this, it is pretty safe to say he will come up a little more sore than he is used to, and the Tigers will have to judge exactly how sore he is and whether or not he can make his next scheduled start in five days. Verlander will also probably be put on a pitch limit instead of an inning limit. Whether is he still in the first inning or completed the second, do not be surprised if he is pulled at any moment.
The biggest concern for the Tigers is that Verlander is already a start behind the rest of the pitchers in the league and will have less time to prepare for the regular season, and there is no telling how he will physically bounce back from this first start. Hopefully he feels fine, but until he completes his first start, no one will know for sure.
However, at the end of the day, Verlander is still one of the most dominating pitchers in the MLB, and even if he starts off a little slow in Spring Training, or even if it carries over into the regular season for a start or two, it is highly unlikely that he has a repeat performance of 2013 and he will turn in another vintage Verlander season.