Verlander should finally enter the discussion



Every year, every game when an ace steps onto the mound, there’s a discussion of some sort — on TV, on the radio, in someone’s podcast, in a newspaper column — about who is the best. We may not always hear it or see it, but in today’s 24-7 sports media world, it’s safe to say it happens.

And the Tigers’ ace, Justin Verlander, more than deserves to be in the discussion; however, he always seems to be left out.

Let’s look at what Verlander has done since 2006. After carving up the Blue Jays this weekend, he has two career no-hitters. Mark Buehrle and Roy Halladay are the only other two active pitchers with multiple no-nos.

I’m willing to bet you’ve heard Halladay’s name in the Cy Young discussion much more frequently over the past several years than Verlander’s. Maybe it’s because he has been the topic of trade talks so often, while Verlander seems to be committed to the Tigers thus far.

But having two no-hitters under his belt isn’t all that makes JV great. The 28-year-old flamethrower has thrown 100 pitches or more in 26 straight games — about double the amount of consecutive games of that sort thrown by Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia.

Once again, Sabathia is lauded by the sports media with every start. Deservedly so, no doubt. Like Halladay, Sabathia has been deep in trade talks, so his name has floated around several ballparks.

Just throwing 100 pitches every game, though, doesn’t make JV great either. His stats, however do.

From 2006-2010, Verlander leads the league in wins with 83. Josh Beckett has 71, which puts him in second on that list.

Beckett pitches in Boston, of course, so guess whom the Bristol, Conn. network (that’s ESPN, by the way), practically holds a parade for each time he toes the mound?

In innings pitches, Verlander is third. In strikeouts from 2006-2010, he is second — seven Ks behind the Mariners’ “King” Felix Hernandez.

With his latest dominating performance, a game where he was about 3 inches away from perfection, Verlander also became just the 29th pitcher in history with multiple no-hitters.

Let’s put that into perspective. There are 30 MLB teams with five starting pitchers, which gives us 150. Sprinkle in the fact that there are often injuries, players brought up from the minor leagues and pitchers who start and then are moved out of the rotation into the bullpen or vice versa, and it’s safe to assume 160-170 pitchers start every year.

Now, let’s just think back 10 years ago at how many pitchers have came and went. The number probably moves up over 300.

And baseball has been played how long? (Although teams’ rotations were shorter back in the day).

Exactly. At 29, we’re talking a pretty small list.

Also, JV is 28 years old. He’s got plenty in the tank.

So Tigers fans, we have something to be proud of in our ace pitcher. Even if no one else knows about it.


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