Verlander got off to a great start last April, but after a disaster outing in Arlington on May 16th, the wheels came off relative to what we’ve come to expect of the Tigers’ ace. In 20 starts from May 16 to August 27, Verlander had a 4.45 ERA and 4.12 FIP. Those aren’t so rough that you’re moving him to the bullpen or cutting him loose, but man, for the guy who was the best pitcher in the league over the previous four seasons, it doesn’t look good.
Then a funny, or perhaps expected, thing happened. Verlander came back. Since September 1, he’s been incredible.
Among qualifying starters since September 1 (including postseason), only Andrew Cashner has a lower ERA. Only Sonny Gray and Hyun-Jin Ryu have allowed a lower ISO. Only Liriano, Straily, and Scherzer have higher swinging strike rates than Verlander since then. He’s averaged 94.2 mph on his fastball, maxing out at 99.1. No serious platoon issues. Nothing.
I wrote extensively last season about Verlander’s release point mess during the middle of last year and that issue appears to be resolved. Verlander is Verlander again. Everyone can rest easy. He’s not going to be the best pitcher in the league for much longer, or maybe ever again, but he’s still going to be very good for a very long time. He’s going to get worse, which is something we have to accept, but he’s not going to be a below average starter.
Let’s hope the same translation applies to Miguel Cabrera and that his early season struggles are a similar issue requiring a simple tweak.