Last night Justin Verlander put together a 131 pitch complete game victory for his first win of the season. If you just see that line it doesn’t seem like anything unusual happened, Verlander did his job and won the game 3-2 over the Royals.
But if you didn’t see the ending would you believe it was 3-1 going into the ninth and JV had already thrown 104 pitches? That in the ninth inning Verlander gave up two hits, a walk and a hit batter to load the bases with two outs?
It was the most nervous I can remember being during game ten of the regular season and it wasn’t necessary or needed for someone who is so important to this team. Mike Valenti from 97.1 said it the best on Twitter last night:
I think it was just an unneeded effort from Verlander and he should have been pulled out of that game as soon as the first run scored at the latest. Allowing Verlander to finish this game may be a moment that could haunt Leyland and the Tigers if something had happened and JV got injured in that game. Yes, he said he felt fine, but he was throwing harder in the ninth then he had all game.
According to ESPN Stats, Verlander’s last pitch tied for his fastest all night at 100.3 MPH and he went over 100 MPH four times in the game, all in the ninth. Verlander threw 80 fastballs in the game and 19 in the ninth inning with seven ninth inning fastballs topping 98 MPH.
Verlander is also the only pitcher so far this season to go over eight innings in all of his starts and is the first Tigers pitcher since Jack Morris in 1988, from Tigers Talk 24/7.
Allowing Justin some ‘demons to exorcise’ after leaving Opening Day and having the lead blown by the bullpen and in his next start losing the game himself by giving up four runs in the ninth inning. If Leyland is going to allow his star to dictate how long he pitches he is putting the season and the rest of the staff in danger by risking JV every time he goes out.
I understand letting your stud take care of business and get the win himself, but it can’t happen any more and Bob Wojnowski said it perfectly after the game last night.
“I told Skip,” Verlander said, “I said, ‘Sorry for getting your blood pressure up. Now that that’s out of the way the rest of them will be easy.’ ” We all hope so JV, we need you in October/November more than in April.