Verlander and Leyland do lots of talking, and Hernandez chimes in

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.


  1. Taylor

    September 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Hernandez needs to go. And that’s that.

  2. Vince in MN

    September 7, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Can the whole staff. But I repeat myself.

  3. stephen

    September 7, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Well said. Meanwhile, Lions already down 21 in the first quarter. They make the Tigers look like a well-oiled machine

  4. Vince in MN

    September 7, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Lions: 50 years of ineptitude and counting.

  5. thefume

    September 7, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    wait, i thought they switched verlander’s mechanics in may, after he had lost 5 mph on his fastball. where did you see them doing this in ST/before the season?

  6. billfer

    September 7, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Originally Posted By thefume
    wait, i thought they switched verlander’s mechanics in may, after he had lost 5 mph on his fastball. where did you see them doing this in ST/before the season?

    They tweaked them at the end of spring training with poor results. The late April adjustment was to try and get them right again.

  7. thefume

    September 7, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    billfer, unless there’s something you’re referencing that’s not on this blog, i don’t know where you’re getting that from. the freep article you linked only mentioned the late april adjustment, and an interview in late july he mentions that his arm slot was low during spring training, but he seems to indicate that he didn’t realize it until late april.

    i don’t think chuck can be blamed for suggesting a mechanical tweak in ST, but more so for not seeing that the slot had changed earlier (first week of march would have been nice).

  8. ron

    September 7, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    The dictionary says that a tweak is to pinch and pull with a sudden jerk and twitch. Now, if it’s mechanical, shouldn’t they be working on JV’s car? That tweaking is what big brothers do to little sisters, usually with bad results.

  9. Mark L

    September 8, 2008 at 1:35 am

    I’ve been calling for Hernandez’s job for a while. We just haven’t been seeing the results we should from this pitching staff as a whole. It’s time for a fresh face.

  10. billfer

    September 8, 2008 at 8:09 am


    Verlander was lights out in his first 3 spring training starts, not allowing a run in his first 8 innings. In his next start he was hammered by the Yankees. It was brushed off because he was working on stuff, and that had to do with his backleg. In his next start he only allowed 1 run, but walked 4 in 5 innings. And he was knocked around in his final start of the spring as well.

  11. thefume

    September 8, 2008 at 10:40 am

    i dunno, it still seems like a bit of a reach. he makes an adjustment to push off his back leg in ST, and by the time opening day rolls around he loses velocity he may or may not have had. he makes an arm slot adjustment, gets most of the velocity back, and now he wants to throw more downhill.

    it might all be connected, especially since i could see where concentrating on driving off your leg might lower your whole body and subsequently your release point. and now they look at old video again and want him to throw with more of a down angle, which i suppose could be interpreted to staying back and not pushing off as quick with your back leg.

  12. thefume

    September 8, 2008 at 10:45 am

    i didn’t see these articles posted anywhere re: verlander, bonderman. he seems to agree with you that well intentioned mechanical adjustments robbed bonderman and verlander of their velocity.

  13. ron

    September 8, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Wow, I thought Jim Abbott had problems. Verlander is a wreck.

  14. thefume

    September 8, 2008 at 11:19 am

    it looks like the only major difference that you can see on the frame-by-frame is the follow-thru, on his 89 mph fastball it seems like he drove more vertically while on the 99 mph fastball he rotated more horizontally. whether this is a cause (the ground is essentially absorbing momentum because he’s driving too much downhill) or effect (caused simply by faster shoulder rotation) or small sample size or none of the above (i have no idea what i’m talking about) is up for debate.

  15. ron

    September 8, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    I’ve been looking at JV’s pitching motion frame by frame also and in between frames 213 and 214, a ghostly figure I believed to be Paul Foytack appeared. I dunno? Anyways, trying to emulate JV, I threw an apple through the living room mirror. It’s not as easy as it looks and now my deltoid is acting up.

  16. ivantopumpyouup

    September 8, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Oh no, not another person on the “Fire Chuck Hernandez!” bandwagon. I think at this point, I’m just being contrary. :/

  17. Smoking Loon

    September 8, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Who’s Paul Foytack, Ron? I don’t want to spoil the joke, so just whisper it to me.

    How are the apple and the mirror doing? Sounds like you threw a strike, so you might be on to something there.

  18. Vince in MN

    September 8, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Loon, for shame not to know who Paul Foytack is. And I suppose you have never heard of Terry Fox or Don Mossi either.

  19. Smoking Loon

    September 8, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Well, Vince, I could have looked Foytack up and pretended to know.

    Of course I know who Terry Fox and Don Mossi are. They’re, um, they used to… hold on, page is still loading.

  20. ron

    September 8, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Vince, forgot about Fox. Wikipedia has a great bio on him and another Terry Fox, a runner from Canada.

  21. Smoking Loon

    September 8, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    “In an interview Saturday, Rogers refused to acknowledge he has a hip problem, perhaps not to make it seem he’s using health issues as an excuse.”

    Perhaps not to go along with obvious bullcrap. He’s being pulled from the rotation because he’s stunk for quite a while now, and I’m pretty sure he knows it, even if he won’t say so.

    Almost every time a Tigers pitcher has become ineffective in 2008, suddenly there’s a health problem, often a retroactive one. Uh-huh.

  22. ron

    September 8, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    I didn’t mean to throw the apple. It was just a prop, but it slipped out of my hand when my back leg gave out slipping off the cat’s bed, which I was using as the rubber.

  23. ron

    September 8, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Smoking Loon, the ineffectiveness of the team this year has probly caused some health problems among the fans too. I know my acid reflux is worse on game days.

  24. Smoking Loon

    September 8, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Don’t I know it, Ron. Thanks to the 2008 Tigers, I went from a healthy middle-aged man to an aquatic bird of ancient lineage with a nicotine habit virtually overnight.

    Don’t throw food. People are starving in China. Also, you might put an eye out. And don’t make faces at me, or your face might freeze like that.

  25. ron

    September 8, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Smoking Loon, Amanda might be able to put you out of your misery.

  26. ron

    September 8, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    By the way, when is Loon season?

  27. ron

    September 8, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Smoking Loon, Back to Wikipedia, I see that Mercer. Wisconsin BILLS itself “Loon Capital of the World”. You may want to land there for a quick crumb during your next migration north.

  28. Smoking Loon

    September 9, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Hey, we’re not ducks. Ya got that, pal? Don’t make me tell you twice.

    A quick crumb? Dude, we eat fish. Even Paul Foytack knew that, which is probably why he had such a tremendous K/BB ratio, versus both live batters and mirrors.

    Man oh man, Ron, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear you were a loonophobe or something.