So….a few weeks ago I wrote a post charting Verlander’s difficulties and questioning whether he can ever be an ace again. I’m happy to say I was wrong. I’m not sure if he is. But he can be. I would like to point out that I pinpointed his slider as the difference maker, and I want to demonstrate why his slider has been such a big part of his recent string of strong starts (bullpen be damned).
Since giving up 7 ER to the Indians in 5 inning on May 3rd, JV has allowed only 10 ER over 44 2/3 spanning 6 starts. His ERA in that span is 2.01, his WHIP is a microscopic .78, and he’s K’d 52 batters. The BAA is .161 and the OPS against is .465. That is ACE STUFF.
Without analyzing pitch by pitch metrics, it’s hard for me to find the exact data, but I can tell you that the velocity of his slider on a game by game basis has been its highest over the past six games, and pitch value of his slider this season has been at its highest in 5 of his last six starts. By increasing the velocity of his slider and giving up a little break, it has become a ferocious pitch, perhaps because it is more difficult to recognize. Watch it for swings and misses today.
Someone please post the lineup when avail.