Tonight, for the first time in six years, Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander will not be present at the MLB All-Star game. Perhaps that is a good thing as a four-day vacation to clear his mind and figure out what went wrong in the first half might be very beneficial to him.
Verlander was given the start in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Royals, and he actually looked quite good until the Royals put a five-spot on the board in the seventh inning. He would end up being charged with four of those runs.
Verlander is now 8-8 with a 4.88 ERA and his WHIP currently sits at a lofty 1.46. He is also leading the league in hits allowed as well as earned runs, and his opponents are batting a solid .278 against him. His strikeouts are way down this season as well, averaging just 6.7 K/9 compared to his career rate of 8.4. The ways things are going right now, it looks like 2014 is shaping up to be his worst season since 2008.
There is, however, hope that he could still turn it around. Verlander rebounded very nicely from his disappointing 2008 campaign, and as recently as 2011, he put together a historical season in which he brought home both the American League Cy Young award as well as the AL MVP award. He followed that up with a stellar 2012 campaign, and although his numbers were a bit down last season, he most certainly looked like the Verlander of old in the 2013 postseason.
Verlander can bounce back again yet again and the Tigers need him to. Yes, they have a very comfortable 6.5-game lead over the Royals at the moment, but they are still going to need Verlander to be better down the stretch and in the playoffs. The Tigers are a very good team, but they are trying to win their first World Series in 30 years this season; they have a rough road ahead of them as teams such as the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels and, of course, the Oakland Athletics will likely be waiting for them in the postseason.
The Tigers might have Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello on their staff, but they are still going to need Verlander to be Verlander if they wish to reach their ultimate goal. Simply put, the dominant Verlander must rise once again in the second half.