Game 96: Verlander, Leyland and careful pitching

Let’s all agree on this: It’s no longer a question of velocity with Justin Verlander.

His fastball on Saturday averaged just under 96 mph, according to data from MLB.com Gameday and brooksbaseball.net. That’s his best of the year. His command of it, on the other hand, was not.

There’s a strike rate on Verlander fastball that seems to correlate with how he has been doing this season. When his strike ratio on his fastball has hovered around 60 percent, he has usually struggled. When it’s around 70 percent, he has been at his best. On Saturday, he threw 28 out of 44 fastballs for strikes, according to Brooks’ site. That amounts to a 63.64 percent rate, or the exact same rate of strikes he threw with his changeup.

His hardest pitches ranged around that 32-pitch fourth inning, when he loaded the bases twice and walked in a run.

To suggest he isn’t throwing as hard as he used to seems to be an old argument now. Whether he can actually command it the same way when he throws hard now, or anywhere close, is another matter.

Perhaps that’s why there seemed to be some differing views on what exactly is going on with Verlander.

“He wasn’t sharp,” manager Jim Leyland said. “His control wasn’t good. He was behind guys. This is just me; I don’t know what Justin will say. But it looks to me like he’s pitching a little careful. He’s just not being aggressive with his stuff and pitching a little bit too careful. That’s just my observation.”

Verlander’s response: “No.”

Asked what would lead Verlander to pitch carefully, Leyland deferred.

“Can’t answer that,” Leyland said. “You’ll have to ask him.”

When asked later would lead Leyland to suggest he was pitching carefully, Verlander deferred.

“That’s a question for him,” Verlander said.

His catcher’s response was somewhere in the middle, but seemed to trend towards Verlander a bit.

“Well, he’s attacking guys,” Alex Avila said. “I think he just doesn’t have his release point. At times, he knows where he wants to throw it, but it’s just not going there at times. It’s just a matter of finding it.”

The fastball, Avila said, seems to be there.

“I mean, I’m not concerned about his fastball. He’s throwing hard,” he said. “When he’s throwing it there and he has good command of it, they’re not taking good swings. And when they do, they’re not hitting it hard. They haven’t really been taking good swings off his fastball. It’s just making sure you can not only get ahead of guys, but finishing them with the same release point.”

Verlander and Leyland don’t seem to be on the same page as far as the root of the issue, but I’m not sure they need to be. The man Verlander needs to be in agreement with is the pitching coach, because he and Jeff Jones have another long week ahead.

13 Comments

I watched only the part when they interviewed Leland and knew right off he was ticked off, not necessarily only at Justin, but just ticked off. Kind of like the rest of us felt.

Strictly, my impression only. Over the years, particularly in Justin’s past years, he and Jim have often disagreed about his pitching performance during the post-game interviews. But, it has been awhile since that has happened. Justin is used to getting his own way and when he doesn’t, he pouts and that’s always when he loses focus. That’s just my opinion, however.

It’s no consolation, but the Nationals have gone 6 for 66 with RISP. I don’t even watch them anymore.
Regarding Verlander, pitchers do have down seasons. He and Jones can only keep plugging away at it. The team in general needs to guard against playing negative when their horse isn’t, uh, horsing.

Verlander seems to undego an inordinate amount of psychoanalysis from fans. He’s always had excellent pitching mechanics, even when very young, but there’s a flaw this season. My guess is it came from trying to overthrow the fastball due to some faulty radar readings. That is an issue that never plagued old time pitchers.

KC is known by faulty radar readings too, but the other way. Supposedly shows more speed than the real. So say the people of Fox in español every single week.
Verlander remains 9th in the AL in FIP
His k/9 going down fast but still 8th , And his fourth better season
And is 4th from the bottom in Babip against.So, he has been unlucky but pitching for contact with this team does not work at all
His BB /9 is the worrisome stat.

My take: or the workload is collecting it dues or the ST routine to prepare himself for postseason was misguided.

Verlander is taking a lot of heat from fans, hopefully he doesn’t read various blogs and let comments add to his frustration.
I think that his personality turns off a lot of people. This year he is learning you can’t always get what you want. That song will be in my head all day now.

Jackson CF
Hunter RF
Cabrera 3B
Fielder DH
Martinez 1B
Peralta SS
Dirks LF
Peña C
Santiago 2B
Fister P

2E……although I guess Dirks is getting the nod since its a practically a hometown series for him. I guess that’s okay???

My guess is that JV puts more pressure on himself than anyone in the media or Tiger fandom ever could..in my experience with perfectionist that’s how it goes..
.
Just watching him this year and the later part of last year his fastball and I’m not really talking velocity doesn’t seem to fool people. And they just foul thm off and it frustrates him and not the wipeout pitch it once was. I feel like he is frustrated (but I guess only he knows) and it affects him out on the mound and he winds up just grooving one very flat fastball in hittable locations. I’m not an expert its just my opinion. Without him figuring it out this team probably still makes the playoffs, but I don’t see a deep run although at this time last year I woulda said the same thing.

Against a RHP he wont play 2E no matter the splits.

We will see him a lot this week

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