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What’s wrong with Justin Verlander?

Jun 5, 2014, 3:28 PM EST

justin verlander getty Getty Images

Justin Verlander got off to a great start this season, posting a 2.48 ERA in April, but he’s looked unlike his usual dominant self since the calendar flipped to May and that continued this afternoon with a rough outing against the Blue Jays.

Verlander allowed six runs in seven innings versus Toronto, serving up two homers, and has now allowed 33 runs in 46 innings since May 1 for a 5.67 ERA over seven starts. Even the best players struggle at times and certainly seven poor starts is hardly the end of the world for Verlander, but his 30/20 K/BB ratio during that time is uncharacteristic as well and his average fastball velocity is down to a career-low 92.2 miles per hour.

In fact, Verlander’s average fastball has declined from 95.0 to 94.3 to 93.3 to 92.2 since 2011. So he’s throwing slower than ever, he’s struggling for the past 5-6 weeks, and his strikeout rate of 6.4 per nine innings is his lowest since he was a 23-year-old rookie in 2006. Maybe it’ll all prove to be a minor speed bump for the former MVP and Cy Young winner–he was actually throwing a little harder today, for instance–but at age 31 and in the second season of a seven-year, $180 million contract extension it’s definitely cause for concern.

He’s scheduled to face rookie slugger Jose Abreu and the White Sox’s third-ranked offense next week, in Chicago.

  1. jaysfan64 - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    The Blue Jays have lit up a lot of pitchers this year – Verlander, Lester, Masterson, Shields, and others…but you’re right – Verlander doesn’t look right…

  2. proudlycanadian - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    I am afraid that Kate Upton has depleted his precious bodily fluids.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      She’s probably Cat Daddy’in for him every night

      #Jelly

  3. imnotyourbuddyguy - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    He’s spending energy on Kate Upton nightly, and I don’t blame him. Maybe he would pitch better if he only gets a taste the night after a QS.

  4. tfbuckfutter - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    He’s preoccupied by fashion and supermodel tail.

    Look, lay off the guy. If you had hundreds of millions guaranteed dollars maybe you’d have a lot of other interests outside of a game that you’d pursue as well.

    The key to living a full life is being a well rounded person.

  5. illuminancer - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    He’s a pitcher over 30? Of course he’s losing velocity. It happens.

  6. cur'68 - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    I think there’s an inevitable adjustment period in every pitcher’s career once he passes out if his youthful power arm stage. At this point JV is trying to go from power pitcher to a guy who can work speeds and locations for the bulk of his outs. Its an adjustment and he can’t expect pitches he leaves up in the zone to be kept in the park. Also, lets face it: he wasn’t pitching against the 2013 Beaver Men today.

    Kate Upton seems like a nice girl and I wish her and JV well together, as long as they last. I hope and doubt their relationship has much of anything to do with Verlander’s pitching problems. If anything, she may well be a source of comfort and encouragement for him at a time when he may need the support. Good luck to the both of them.

    • Reflex - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      Finally someone not trying to blame the girl. I mean seriously what the heck? He’s 31 and exiting his prime. Either he learns to pitch rather than throw or he will be a back of the rotation starter by age 34. What’s happening here is not unusual and will happen to Kershaw, Weaver and Felix eventually too unless they make adjustments.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:29 PM

        Everyone always blames the girls when a player isn’t playing up to par.

        “Tom Brady is winning Super Bowls because he’s amazing! And look at his pretty actress girlfriend!…..Tom Brady lost a Super Bowl! It must be the distraction from his supermodel girlfriend!”

        Although I will say, things going bad between a guy and a lady definitely can have a negative effect on players, baseball in particular.

        But I’m sure Justin isn’t having any more sex than he’s always had access to, nor is Kate Upton necessarily hotter than other girls he’s always had access to.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:30 PM

        If a math teacher starts dating Kate Upton, his job performance is probably going to be terrible.

        But not a professional athlete.

      • Reflex - Jun 5, 2014 at 6:16 PM

        The only truth in your statement is that people tend to blame irrelevant things when someone does something unexpected. That does not mean it is true or not, nor does it mean that it affects baseball players more than anyone else. If a player’s father died it would likely affect them similarly to a bad breakup or anything else. Furthermore, nobody says “wow, look at his incredible performance lately, it must be because of that relationship with that supermodel” they only blame negative things on the girl.

        The whole thing is idiotic. And at times sexist.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jun 5, 2014 at 6:41 PM

        @Reflex, That was kind of my point (although disintegrating marriages seem to play a role in baseball performance far more than in any other sport, although that may just be a combination of the eye-test and baseball being probably the easiest sport to quantify).

        Additionally, I wasn’t saying people credited Tom Brady’s positive performance on his actress girlfriend…I was saying it was a point of reference in addition to how well he played….but when playing poorly, it’s pointed to as a source of the problem.

        I agree that it’s stupid. That was what I was illustrating. Because these guys always have access to incredibly beautiful women, a specific one isn’t going to cause them to suddenly forget how to do the thing they’ve always exceeded at while leading presumably above-average sex lives.

      • clydeserra - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:04 PM

        (its happening to weaver)

    • carpi2 - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:07 PM

      I’m not so sure Kate is providing much effective emotional support and encouragement:

      • cur'68 - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:22 PM

        That’s not Kate Upton. That’s Lauren Caitlin Upton who is a couple years older and from Lexington, South Carolina. Kate Upton is from St. Joseph, Michigan and was never a beauty contestant. Kate Upton earned her fame at an early age by being a highly talented, award winning equestrian from the age of 13 onwards and then as a model. This stuff’s all available information via google and wikipedia, so please don’t think I go around paying all that much attention to the doings of random young women but knowing one from the other is sort of a Life Skill for a dude. As for the young lady in the video, Caitlin, are we to always assume that she’ll have the poise and knowledge of a 15 year old? I suspect that she’d give a much more coherent and logical answer these days, regardless of if she were dating Justin Verlander or not.

      • carpi2 - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:10 PM

        My bad for not doing my due diligence on finding the wrong Kate (or, Cate) Upton. So hard to keep up with pop culture these days! Thanks for the education. However, I am not sure how much coherent the girl in the video is these days.

  7. proudlycanadian - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    Another day and another Jays win. This is definitely not boring.

    • proudlycanadian - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      The Jays are now 37 & 24. With Tanaka’s win over the A’s today, Oakland is 27 & 23. The last time the Jays played Oakland, they swept the A’s.

      3 Jays hit their 10th home runs of the season today.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:16 PM

        EDIT FUNCTION: Oakland is 37 & 23.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:42 PM

        Is that how they teach you to display sporting recourds up there in Canadia?

        37-24 is standard.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:45 PM

        It is time to be creative.

      • clydeserra - Jun 5, 2014 at 8:05 PM

        wait, what happened the last time the jays played the A’s? I don’t think anyone has mentioned it.

  8. senotonom205 - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    I saw a couple of .Gifs on a Tigers blog that compared his delivery this season to his delivery last season and some are speculating that he is still strengthening his core after surgery in the off season. He almost looks labored on his delivery especially late in games. Not to mention Torii Hunter told him that it took him an entire season to get back to full strength from the same surgery. It just seems he is having trouble driving off the mound with the same kind of power he has in the past and is relying more on his arm, which could be tiring him out earlier in games. I’m no scout, so this is pure speculation.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 5, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      It just seems he is having trouble driving off the mound with the same kind of power he has in the past and is relying more on his arm

      If this is true, it can be a giant red flag for a future injury. When you have to push one cog in the wheel harder because of a default of another cog, it can chain events that lead to worse problems.

      Hopefully it’s not the case though, baseball is more fun when there’s a dominant Verlander on the mound.

  9. sisisisisisisi - Jun 5, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    Last year wasn’t that great for him either.

    • weaselpuppy - Jun 5, 2014 at 5:44 PM

      the year he and Kate weren’t together….. Don’t blame the tail for wagging, blame the dog…

  10. scoochpooch - Jun 5, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    looks like he has 3 losses outside of his weak central division. he should right himself once he faces the usual terrible central competition.

  11. echech88 - Jun 5, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    That sure was nice of Detroit to give Miggy and Verlander those gift basket monster contracts 2 years before they had to.

  12. suicidalionsfan - Jun 5, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    Like Samson and Delilah, Upton has “cut Justin’s locks “

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