On Friday afternoon, the Detroit Tigers defeated the Atlanta Braves by a score of 3-0, and Justin Verlander continued to show signs that he is going to return to the dominant form he displayed from 2009-2012. He appears to be on a mission to prove that 2013 was an anomaly.
Verlander, making his third start of Spring Training, pitched five scoreless innings, recorded four strikeouts, allowed just five hits and gave up only one walk. He now has a 0.00 ERA with 10 Ks through 13.2 innings pitched this spring. Verlander’s strong spring is certainly a good sign for Brad Ausmus‘ ball club to say the very least.
Verlander, by his standards, had a down season in 2013 as he posted a 13-12 record with an ERA of 3.46. He also walked 75 batters which was the most that he had walked in any season since 2008, and it was also the first full season of his nine-year career where he failed to throw at least one complete game. Verlander also sat back and watched Max Scherzer dethrone him as the ace of the Tigers’ staff, and later be rewarded with the AL Cy Young award.
Some fans were beginning to fear that Verlander was past his prime, and began wondering if last season was merely the beginning of a “post-30 downfall” for him. If that was the case, it would have been unfortunate as the Tigers made the decision to lock Verlander up through the 2019 season prior to the beginning of the 2013 campaign.
However, Verlander resembled his former self in the 2013 postseason, as he allowed only one earned run through 23 innings of work which consequently gave fans hope that he would be able to bounce back in 2014. That said, when it was announced that Verlander had undergone core muscle surgery in early January of this year, the anxiety returned and fans understandably became concerned about his future once again.
By all accounts, Verlander’s performance today was a terrific indication that he is healing very well, and that he appears to be primed to put together a Cy Young-caliber season in 2014. Verlander, Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez could very easily combine to give the Tigers upward of 50 wins in 2014.