As the Tigers season has slid out of control, Jim Leyland has taken to reading and the newspapers and responding to what his players say in the newspapers. The latest was with Justin Verlander. Verlander mentioned a tight strike zone as a reason for his Labor Day labors.
Leyland didn’t like the excuse making. The two had a chat and everyone is happy now, but Verlander still isn’t pitching well. So his pitching coach comes out and makes an excuse for Verlander. Verlander was trying too hard in many of those starts. Whatever.
Chuck Hernandez screwed up Justin Verlander from the start this year. His intentions were fine, trying to make Verlander a more efficient pitcher and keep him strong for later in the season. Unfortunately Herandez took something that wasn’t broken and broke it. Verlander altered his mechanics, with poor results. He switched back, and had some success as he regained velocity and bite. But now he’s back to struggling again and back to working on his mechanics.
When Verlander was drafted there were concerns about control and mechanics, but the Tigers got those straightened out quickly and turned him into a stud pitcher. Now he’s still trying to regain what he once had in his first 3 years in pro baseball.
Hernandez has been under considerable scrutiny over the last year and a half. Not being privy to the coach/player interactions it is hard to know how much is the coach’s fault and how much is the player failing to execute. The pitching staff has just done too poorly though at this point for Hernandez to retain his job, and the management of Verlander may be the most damning evidence.