Verlander throws Twins a curve (or 20)

Justin Verlander’s outing Monday night could go a long way towards easing the concern about him for the playoffs. They just have to get there first.

The latter should happen in the next day or two. If there’s a postseason spot hanging on his next start in the regular-season finale Sunday at Miami, they’re in trouble. If not, the outing will all be about getting him ready to roll for October.

Verlander has been talking about it for weeks, calling the postseason a deadline for him to get his game together. He’ll face way better, more experienced lineups than the Twins fielded Monday, but if he can throw curveballs like he did Monday, the caliber of hitters probably won’t make much of a difference. When he executed, he could get outs at will.

It was a tight, sharp breaking ball rather than a big, loopy curve. The movement, moreover, included a little action diving outside from right-handed hitters, which really seemed to throw hitters off. He felt good about his curveball last outing, too, despite the results. This time, the strikeouts backed up his point.

“I think I had the best breaking ball I had all year,” he said. “It was really sharp. I was able to go to it when I wanted to, throw it for strikes and expand the zone with it. Fastball location was better than it has been, and I was able execute for the most part.”

Verlander threw 20 curveballs, according to brooksbaseball.net, and threw 11 of them for strikes. He induced just three swings and misses from them, but spotted seven others for called strikes. It took him an inning or two to get it going, and he needed his slider to get him through that stage until he could feel comfortable going to the curve for strikes. Once he got it going, though, he was throwing them ahead in counts and daring opponents to try to hit it. They didn’t.

That success made up for a drop in his strike percentage on fastballs. He had been pounding the zone at a 70 percent rate on his fastballs over his previously two or three starts, but threw strikes with just 30 out of 47 fastballs Monday (63.83 percent). Seven of those strikes were swings and misses.

Add in 22 changeups and 18 sliders, and Verlander had one of his better mixes of the year going for him.

“Verlander had great stuff tonight,” Brian Dozier said. “The last time we faced him at their place, he was sharp. But he was back to his old self tonight. His curveball was really working tonight and punched out a lot of guys. So our goal when he’s going like that is to make him work and get to the bullpen.”

19 Comments

Ugh, so frustrating to stay up late and not see a win. OK guys, you are making this final week much more stressful than I expected a few weeks ago. I don’t mind a little suspense but let’s put this thing to rest, we can’t count on the Tribe to fall, we have to finish out strong.

You will forget this game after we clinch. What you won’t forget is Verlander getting his stuff right for the playoffs.

Still would have left Justin in.

You are right portwinelad – I did not see him pitch much, I got home right when they took him out but I listened to his last few inings and it sounded like he was really doing tremendous.

I was surprised JL took him out in the 7th. For JV, the pitch count was manageable.
I hate to keep harping on this but DD has botched the bullpen up prior to and during this season. He stopped making moves with Veras when it was clear he needed to find a late inning lefty as well.
Smyly has not been throwing well for a while now. At least in terms of consistency. Handing him the ball for a portion of an inning will not result in making him as effective as he can be. He’s a guy that should be stretched out to long relief. This is the square peg and round hole syndrome that Jl and DD employ every year with someone.
If Fister bombs tonight there is going to be a whole lot of consternation developing in Tiger Town. Tonight is the matchup between the Sox and the Tribe that I think could help our magic number. I don’t see Dylan Axlerod holding the Tribe to under 7 runs tomorrow.
The three-headed beast showed up again last night. The name of the beast is the “Stealthy Bat-Eating Bull”. It inflicts damage in our defensive running game, our hitting and our bull-pen. The three areas of concern that have plagued the team the whole year.
Rod Allen’s ‘best hitting team in the world” has been shut out 11 times, Lost 12 of 18 extra inning games and is 19-23 in 1 run games.
If that Stealthy Bat-Eating Bull was not around this year, I wonder what those numbers might look like.

I always laugh when Rod says that.
I think DD made an error over the winter regarding the bullpen, and this is something many people saw at the time. As far as obtaining help during the season, he probably tried really hard but couldn’t get the right deal. He was dealing from weakness due to his inactivity over the winter. Everyone knew Detroit was desperate for relief help by then.
We need two lousy wins and I don’t want to go to Friday with this business. We could clinch on the off day too. How fun is that?

Meant to add, DD usually does a bang up job.

I be willing to bet the bats come alive tonight. then again, i am a meteorologist, so what does that say?

You probably nailed those Metrodome weather forecasts pretty good, hey?

Rich‏@RafeSavage12s
If they’d let us play Cleveland one more time, we’d wrap it up in one day. Wait, you say there’s on opening on Monday for that?

I hope Mister Fister can handle all those less experienced Twins. Their LHP Diamond has not been an easy pitcher to hit in the past, I believe.

Hope I only have to say this once this year as it is so very difficult to say. Go White Sox!!!!! Go Tigers!!!!!

Here is the deal with the bullpen and yes there are some big IFs. IF Rondon pitches well tonight and is healthy, along with an improved Al Al (who looked good last night), that gives us a good bullpen, especially when you add Porcello. Porcello and Smyly can go longer in the post season. Rondon can attack LHB and for the love of pete, Phil Coke would only see 1 batter in the post season. The biggest head scratcher I had last night was Benoit returning for the 9th. I liked using him in the 8th but at this point of the season, there was no reason to bring him back in the 9th. And he is, I assume, not available tonight.

When our manager gets nervous and shows absolulely no confidence in the eighth inning guy, it is the sworn duty of the closer to pitch the eighth and ninth inning. Did you notice that after he gave up the dinger he STILL had to finish the inning???? Benoit had another two bonus outs save this month didn’t he??

I thought, at the time, the crucial outs were the outs in the 8th. So bringing in Benoit in the 8th was good. Let someone else finish the game, clean slate in the 9th. I guess we are thin in the bullpen.
Yes, Benoit had a 4 out save vs KC as I remember.

Five games to go and our pitching staff still has a very good chance to break the record for most strikeouts in a season. In fact, our pitchers have more stikeouts than hits allowed. Reds and Indians have a chance to do it, too. Not sure how often it happens.

man oh man today was rough for me. Really hoping to hear some good baseball tonight.

Did a little math……..early this morning I was annoyed that our bats would be held to 3 runs by the like of Pelfry and I stick by that. And Rich I think mentioned that this is what we are a team that doesn’t hit well enough (and I agree) and one that depends on pitching. Anyway I wanted to see how we stacked up against the other division winners. So what I did was looked at how many times we scored 1 run…how many times 1 or 2 runs and so on…….

0 RUNS 1-2 3-4 5-6 7-9 10 or more
Tigers. 12. 23 42 35 25 20
Oakland. 9 38 40 30. 23 17
Red Soxs. 11 28 36 36. 33 17

We obviously had more 10 plus games but more shutouts as well. No sure what it says, but in reality it’s pretty even.

That doesn’t look how I planned it….but it’s games with 0 runs…games with 1-2 runs, games with 3-4 runs, games with 5-6 runs games with 7-9 runs and games with 10 or more runs.

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