Game 66: Back to the drawing board

Well, now what?

“Back to the drawing board,” Justin Verlander said.

“Right now, he’s scuffling and everyone’s saying he’s done,” Brad Ausmus said. “I don’t think he’s done. I think Justin Verlander will be just fine.”

Last year suggests Verlander will get through this. Long-term history suggests Verlander will age into a thirty-something pitcher, not wither into obscurity. Somehow, though, he has to find the route to get there.

“I’ve got to stay positive,” Verlander said. “Frustrating, yes. End of the world, no. You’ve got to keep your eye on the big picture. Every athlete over the course of their career is going to go through ups and downs. It’s a matter of how you come out of them, not what happens while you’re in it.”

First things first, Verlander is not getting bumped out of the rotation. The only way he gets replaced by Robbie Ray in the Tigers rotation is if he goes on the disabled list, and all sides are saying he’s not hurt.

“Unequivocally no,” Verlander added for emphasis.

He has plenty of things going wrong, but health doesn’t appear to be one of them.

“He’s going to be here all year,” Ausmus said. “He’s one of our pitchers. There’s really no reason to be concerned about him. He’s going to pitch every fifth day. If we have an off day, we might push people back and give him an extra day, but he’s going to pitch.”

He is not going to be skipped in the rotation when next Monday’s off-day comes around, either, it appears.

“We’re not really in a position where we can skip a start right now,” Ausmus said. “We don’t have any options. And I wouldn’t skip a start with Justin Verlander anyway.”

Said Verlander: “I pitch better on five days than six days. So I don’t think skipping a start does anything positive. I think it has the opposite effect.”

That leaves the between-starts work. He was superb at it 2-3 years ago. He was patient with it last year and watched it pay off down the stretch. He’s still looking for it now. But he’s also wary of throwing a ton of pitches between starts.

“I want to stop tinkering,” Verlander said. “But when something’s not right, I guess you have to. There’s a reason all my stuff is up right now. You’ve got to fix that. It shouldn’t feel forced to execute pitches. It should happen naturally. It feels forced right now. That kind of has a snowball effect on the offspeed too. If you’ve got to force yourself to be on top of it, you’re not going to be on top of your offspeed either.”

Right now, he isn’t getting on top of any of his pitches, it seems.

“When the ball gets up, it’s been getting hit,” Ausmus said. “When it’s been getting hit, it’s been costing us runs. That’s the only thing I could tell you.”

He’s more frustrated now, he says, than he was in 2008, otherwise known as the season of Verlander’s discontent, when he led the league in losses.

That, he said, was an up-and-down season, though that was also the season his velocity was down enough that Jack Morris was convinced he was hurt. That season, however, was also what helped make Verlander into Cy Young winner and AL MVP a few years ago, because he made it through those struggles and learned something out of them.

This has been a steady fall for him. Even as the stuff improved, and the velocity improved, the results have not.

“It’s a matter of command,” Alex Avila said.

He’s not throwing 100 mph anymore; those days are surely over. If he was throwing 100, though, he probably still wouldn’t be right, not without his command. It definitely wasn’t there Monday — not on his fastball, not on his other pitches. After all, it was back-to-back sliders that put Verlander behind in the count against Omar Infante, forcing Verlander to challenge Infante with a 2-1 fastball that missed up and over the plate.

“My ball was running a lot today,” Verlander said. “It was a little up. Instead of being on the black, it ran back to the middle up. Middle up’s no bueno.”

As much as it hurts right now, he’s going to have to go through this and learn. He’ll need starts to figure out on his own if he still has what it takes to be the pitcher he once was, or if he has to make the transition many of us have long anticipated into less of a power pitcher and more of a mix pitcher.

The Tigers have seen the transition coming. That eventuality factored into their decision on whether to sign Verlander long-term. The belief has always been that Verlander had the secondary pitches to succeed long-term after his fastball starts to fade.

“He certainly has the repertoire to pitch well into his 30s,” Ausmus said. “I don’t know if this is any indication of any of that. But I know he has the stuff and he has the arm to pitch for quite a while. …

“I’ve played with guys who have come up with another pitch. I’ve played with guys who have stuck with the same pitches and learned to locate better. He’s very capable. He’s got four quality pitches. If he does have to do that as he gets older, I certainly believe this is a guy that could do it.”

Before he does, however, he’s going to have to accept it first. And at this point, at least, he doesn’t believe it’s that time.

“I don’t think I’m there yet,” he said. “I think if you look at my stuff, it’s still there. I’m not throwing 100 in the ninth inning right now, but it’s still — look at a bunch of other pitchers in the league — I’m still stuff-wise there.

“Maybe as much as my ball was running today, I’ll become a sinkerballer. Just bring that into my next start. Just keep using that, locate a little better.”

35 Comments

Just might be the end for J.V. He cant throw a fast ball by the batters period.

Maybe Dave Duncan can try and figure out what is wrong . Because something is very wrong .

“That was Suarez on his own, he said. RT @danscan13: @beckjason makes you wonder what was brad doing playing for 1 run having Suarez bunt? 5 hours ago” At least , the manager knows what he is doing

“Though, he did joke: “I’m going to go Looie Tiant and revamp my mechanics.”
Luis Tiant threw with perhaps the strangest, knotted-up motion ever seen with his eyeballs to the sky during his delivery.”

He played thru injury last season. Did he develop bad habits?

The bad He is SO less and giving more walks. The good: giving less HR and allowing more ground balls ?( he is keeping the ball down and that is good with other team not in the bottom of defense rankings) and he gave the team 8 QS before fading( 7 and one during the bad month)

I’m tired………figure it out quick or go on the DL it’s hard to believe even a AAA guy could be much worse. He doesn’t give his team a chance to win and hasn’t since the 1st month of the season. Maybe Jeff Jones isn’t the answer?

He’s Max Scherzer in reverse.

JV is JV. He will figure it out by himself.

Hope your right this is the second year of this. And while every once in a while he has a good stretch he winding up back in crapville.

I think I’m there with you on Jeff Jones, Gk. When our starters and bullpen are ALL having issues, what’s the common link among them? The pitching coach. It has been over a month with these pitching struggles and inconsistencies, and it isn’t getting better. I think it may be time for a change. Whoever the pitching coach is in Toledo, he seems to get guys fixed when they go down. Just a thought.

I don’t know if Jeff Jones is the answer but what they are doing isn’t working.

Pitching coach. Hitting coach. Many of us blamed McClendon for their hitting problems last year and they still have the same issues this year with a new hitting coach. So who’s problem is it, really? DD did not emphasize the BP this year. Prince was not the hitter they thought he would be. Kinsler is an upgrade at 2nd. Suarez is better defensively at SS. Casty is coming along which gave Miggy the chance to go back to 1st. AJ never has reached the heights they expected. Torii is losing it. AA has lost it. Is he still there because of his father?
.
Maybe Max, Drew and Anibal can come through the next few days. KC is up against the odds with this win streak.

I don’t care what he does as long as he learns to pitch. The only thing I find odd is that I thought he didn’t talk on the days he pitched to anyone?
.
Regarding what I said about Jones ….I ultimately don’t think it’s his fault anyone on this blog over the years knows I’m not one to blame coaches or managers. My only thought is that nobody is really doing well this year ( except Sanchez) and why can’t they figure it out. This has been going on not just for the last month with JV it was last year as well. Figure it out already.

I appreciate your use of the TMZ alert. :) This item shouldn’t be given any traction, however.
You know how I always say that a baseball season is like a novel? Our novel has a supermodel in it and is on the bestseller lists.

Remember when Mickey told Rocky that dames weaken legs?

You’re right, Rich. Had to have his Taco Bell and didn’t talk to anybody that day. My, how times have changed. Drained of strength..

While we are at that. His previous outing was the day after her 22 nd birthday

Porcello is vastly improved and Scherzer is matching last year’s numbers.

I would suggest there is very little any coach could do with JV.
Porcello will always be the type of pitcher who will get hit.
Smyly has two pitches and neither of them is top calibre–
Max will fine, as will Anibal.
I said before the year that the starting rotation looks great on paper but that does not translate to execution on the mound. If the rotation were to falter then this lineup would not be able to compensate.
Time for DD to consider a blockbuster trade. One that includes a starter and Austin Jackson.
If Hunter is hurt-call up Moya.
Ramon Cabrera (if Avila goes down) might be useful too though Holaday has been better than expected.
Torii is going to end up under .250 this year. At his age and with his limitations in the field, what value is that?

I don’t think the Upton Effect only indicates poor pitch selection. (Lack of good judgement!)

No she wasn’t the problem last year or this year. Justin Verlander and his inability to pitch at all for a year and a half is. Whatever the reason I don’t care fix it soon or go on the DL please stop torturing me though and wasted my time and money. Like I said sick of excuses and the inability to make any kind of corrections. Everybody involved needs to do their damn jobs. Just fed up. It’s unacceptable but I guess when you continue to give baseball long guaranteed contracts there is no incentive to correct or do better.

He’s already come out and said he is absolutely fine physically. I’m afraid we are stuck with the bad Verlander until he recovers what he lost.

I’m not saying the current string of problems are the fault of a coach, but after a year and a half, I would think a pitching coach should have been able to help JV a little. Instead he’s getting worse. Not to mention the yearly struggles of the bullpen, no matter who’s down there. Rick Knapp was dismissed when the staff was performing better than this, though there could have been other reasons I’m not aware of. What I’m wondering is with the talent level of this staff, why are so many having such deep and extended slumps?

Nathan is old and Verlander is stubborn. Who else is underachieving?

Don’t get the idea that I think Kate Upton has to do with ANY of this. I was joking around up there. I think Verlander only stopped talking to people once he arrived at the ballpark, but I doubt that made him a better pitcher anyway.

Who else is underachieving? Until Sanchez came back from the DL and Max started straightening things out, Porcello was our most reliable starter. Nothing against Rick, but with this staff, that’s a sad statement. Smyly just shouldn’t be in the starting rotation (we should never have traded Fister). Coke has been struggling for forever, it seems. AA hasn’t been as good as his history would indicate he’s capable. Handing the ball to the bullpen is just plain scary these days.Our starters, other than Sanchez, just don’t have the swings & misses that they did last year. To answer your question, I’d say the staff as a whole is underachieving.

Me too!

See, I think all those guys are pitching to their capabilities. Dombrowski put this staff together. Don’t know what Jeff Jones can do with it. Didn’t we discuss this all winter?

JV needs the Ks. He is 5-0 when he Ks seven more. That leaves him 1-7 in games when he is not getting the Ks. But it’s not that simple. Too many walks almost the entire season. Lately the hits and HRs have snowballed. Teams are putting up huge innings. RHBs are hitting him at a .320 clip. Last night Butler and Infante. Both pitches were 94mph fastballs up in the zone. Nothing wrong with 94 but the location was horrible. For the season, what has the league hit against each of his pitches?? Bombing any particular pitch?? Right now he throws 54% FBs and the off speed is mixed evenly among the three pitches. Is that a good mix for him???
Baseball is about adjustments?? Which ones should he make?? And no he can’t spend time with Danny learning the knuckler.

Good times, couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Rich….you really think a pitching coach does nothing or I should say can’t help? I would of thought that it is one coach that can really make a difference.

I agree with that. A pitching coach can make a difference, but the pitcher has to have the talent to work with. Max Scherzer is a prime example of that. Jeff worked tirelessly with him and he won the Cy. I don’t want to name names, but some of our bullpen guys are what they are.

This is because this device assures to either benefit or cure
the autistic people in more ways than one.
In addition, the observing surgeons could transmit their comments to the operating surgeon, who could read them on the Google Glass monitor.
But it seems Memorial Day wasn’t important enough to Google.

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