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Justin Verlander thinks the Tigers influenced the Athletics’ recent pitching acquisitions

Jul 5, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers' Verlander reacts after leaving the game against Texas Rangers in their MLB American League baseball game in Arlington

The Athletics made headlines yesterday when they acquired starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs. The A’s, who have won the AL West two seasons in a row, are leading the division again by 3.5 games and are 20 games over .500. There’s no doubt that GM Billy Beane is trying to put his team in a position to win a championship.

Tigers starter Justin Verlander thinks his team influenced the A’s to bolster their starting staff. The Tigers, of course, booted the A’s out of the ALDS in a nail-biting fifth game in each of the last two seasons. Verlander threw a complete game shutout against the A’s in Game Five of the 2012 ALDS and threw eight shutout innings in Game Five of last season’s ALDS.

Via MLB.com’s Jason Beck and Matt Slovin:

“I found it very interesting,” Verlander said Saturday. “Really, when I saw that trade, I thought that they made that trade for us. No doubt about it in my mind. If they want to win a World Series, they’re envisioning that they have to go through us, and even though it’s been two fantastic series, it’s been heartbreaking for them the last two years.”

[...]

“When you have a team like ours, somebody’s going to go out there and dominate,” Verlander said. “And it just happens the last couple years [against Oakland in Game 5], it’s been me. And I think they felt like they needed that person. Star power in the playoffs goes a long way. Power pitching in the playoffs goes a long way.”

Though the Athletics had done well in the starting pitching department prior to the trade — their 3.30 rotation ERA is fifth-best in baseball — rotation depth was one of their more obvious weaknesses. Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir have been among the best one-two punches in baseball, but the A’s couldn’t feel comfortable relying on Jesse Chavez and Tommy Milone in the post-season. Due to injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, Chavez is a full-time starter for the first time in his major league career. And despite good results, Milone has had trouble missing bats, something the A’s likely realize is not a good thing in post-season baseball.

  1. argofckyourself - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Yeah, I’m sure Oakland is really worried about facing Verlander and his 9.00 ERA in the playoffs.

    • chiadam - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:45 PM

      And that about wraps this thread up.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:59 PM

      I mean you do REALIZE that his career playoff stats are online for us to look up and do a FACT check on you right?

      YOU said he has a, and let me quote YOU “his 9.00 ERA in the playoffs”

      For his career in the postseason, Verlander’s ERA is 3.28

      He’s 7 and 5 in the playoffs himself…

      His career playoff WHIP is a great 1.071

      His career playoff strike outs per 9 innings is OVER 10 at 10.4

      Does your banker believe you when you inform him that your account has $5 million dollars in it?

      Just because you said it?

      • argofckyourself - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:15 PM

        Dude. You’re really over thinking this. Just move on.

      • Hard On For Harden - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:25 PM

        Jesus, you are far and away the most unbearable person that comments on the NBC Sports family of blogs. As if your terrible writing style (and I really hesitate to call it that) wasn’t enough on it’s own, the whole fake tough guy “I know everything about sports” when you time and time again you reveal that you don’t is icing on the cake.

      • dcarroll73 - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:19 AM

        hey, argo, nice classy move! You are shown to be totally out of line when another poster quotes solid numbers, and then you tell him he is “over thinking”? I think it is pretty clear you make a habit of “under thinking”, but maybe you just can’t help it?

      • tuberippin - Jul 6, 2014 at 3:27 AM

        @sportsfan18: The “9.00 ERA” quote was very obviously hyperbole, but let’s delve into this a little, shall we?

        Verlander is a 31-year-old power pitcher with 1,900 career innings under his belt, a fastball that’s lost more than 3mph off his MVP season a couple years back, and currently sports a 4.71 ERA (along with career-highs in WHIP and BAA) despite pitching against the so-so lineups of the AL Central (Minnesota, KC, White Sox, to an extent Cleveland).

        Do you really think he’s going to be better against an increased quality of opponent in the playoffs when he’s giving up 5+ runs a game against the Indians (5/20), White Sox (6/11), Royals (6/16), Orioles (5/14), and the injury-ravaged Rangers (5/25)?

      • argofckyourself - Jul 7, 2014 at 3:36 AM

        First of all, anybody who read my post with two working brain cells should be able to realize that I obviously wasn’t talking about his playoffs ERA. I was talking about facing his 9.00 ERA THIS YEAR in the playoffs. If you couldn’t recognize that up front, oh well.

        Second of all, Verlander has always been a douche and I personally have loved seeing him fall apart this year. The best thing all those idiot baseball writers stuck in the 1970s did was vote for him as the undeserving AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner a few years ago, because he’s been in a tailspin going down fast since then.

        Third of all, some of you need to learn how to take a joke and then look up the definition of “exaggeration.”

    • unclemosesgreen - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      Writing fail – and you were so close. Leave out “in the playoffs” and you had it.

  2. clydeserra - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    Its really really important for a team to win the divsion. a play in game v. felix hernandez/iwakuma or weaver/wilson/richards is even more like a crapshoot than the division series.

    this move is about that

  3. joecool16280 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Pablo Sandoval (and his World Series homers) say hello.

  4. shawnuel - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    Or, maybe the move is about both.

  5. rangermania - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    Verlander has turned out to be an average but overpaid pitcher who thinks he’s a legend in his own time. He barely had a winning record last year and is 3-5 in his last 10 appearances with an era approaching 5.00. So is this what The A;’s were shooting to accomplish?

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:24 AM

      He’s having a tough year but he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball for most of the last few years.

    • tuberippin - Jul 6, 2014 at 3:31 AM

      Yes, the guy with four top-5 AL Cy Young finishes, an AL Cy Young Award, AL Rookie of the Year Award, the only starting pitcher since 1986 to win an AL MVP award, and one of two pitchers in baseball history to win the ROY, MVP, and Cy Young awards in his career “has turned out to be average.”

      • The Almighty Cabbage - Jul 6, 2014 at 6:44 AM

        Looky here, Mr. Tuberippin… This is an NBC Sports blog. There is absolutely NO reason for you to come in here and start spouting actual facts and common sense. Harumph!

  6. rawdog2013 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    There is no dominate team in baseball and that’s why we’re going for it. This is out best shot.

    Verlander can talk crap. He’s had our number the last few years. I have a feeling this year will be different if we have home field advantage during the playoffs.

    • philliesblow - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:06 AM

      Why would this year be different if the A’s have home field? The Tigers have won game 5 in Oakland the last 2 years (2012: 6 – 0, 2013: 3 – 0).

      • kpow55 - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:29 AM

        Because the ALC has become a bit of a joke and the Tigers always seem to find a way to fall apart when other teams kick it up a notch.

      • clydeserra - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:44 AM

        because 2012 and 2013 have nothing to do with 2014.

      • bender4700 - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:40 AM

        @Clyde

        The only people who say past years don’t matter are teams that have lost. They do matter. The A’s have not got past the Tigers in two tries. You really don’t think BB isn’t thinking about that?

        Some people are so far gone it’s ridiculous. You can’t have good sports debates these days because egos and idiots just ruin it.

        You tell the A’s 2012 and 2013 don’t matter. While the Tigers were battling the Sox for the AL the A’s were at home, again. Yeah, don’t matter.

      • bender4700 - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:54 AM

        Kpow, what is a joke is your vague, off points about the ALC.
        2013:
        East: 4 teams above .500
        Central: 3 teams above .500
        West: 2 teams above .500

        The ALC is a joke than the ALW is a gut busting hilarious joke. Because each division is separated by a single team as far as teams above .500.

        The Royals made a late run, and the Indians were really good all year. Oakland benefited from the Angels, Mariners, and Astros sucking majorly all year. Texas was their ONLY competition. The Tigers had to deal with at least 2 teams worth a darn, which isn’t much of a difference. I’m not arguing the Tigers played a really tough division, but to call it a joke is ignoring the BIGGER joke that was the West.

        This is my problem with people and sports debates these days. Statements made ignoring facts. To imply the Tigers had an easy division, while not acknowledging the A’s had an EASIER division is just ridiculous. It’s a lie by omission. Implying the truth is one way when it’s really another.

        The A’s had an easier path through their division. Really, that doesn’t matter as much because the difference isn’t huge. Certainly not a reasonable to act as if the Tigers got in by default.

  7. peopletrains - Jul 6, 2014 at 5:44 AM

    I think he should be keeping an eye on the Royals more than the As at this point…

  8. unclemosesgreen - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    You could do a post every day without even trying under the generic headline “Athlete opens mouth, sounds narcissistic and just plain dumb.”

    • unclemosesgreen - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      Today’s featured athlete: John Lackey.

  9. bender4700 - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Can’t help but notice the A’s don’t have any World Series rings here recently, and the Tigers are a big (the reason) they don’t for two straight years. Just win baby.

    Seriously folks. What’s so hard with “Yeah, he’s right”. Because he is. He’s not saying it’s JUST about the Tigers, but you are HIGH if you think that isn’t a big thought in BB’s brain when making that trade. Just that ridiculous ego crap of trying to act like the last two years didn’t happen.

    Verlander’s 2013 regular season wasn’t good, but how about post season, especially against the A’s?

  10. APBA Guy - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    Well, I for one thought Verlander was right about this. The A’s have lost to the Tigers the past two years, and they just got swept by the Tigers, who absolutely brutalized the A’s 3-4-5 starters.

    I also think Clyde’s point about Beane wanting to win the division is valid, because a play-in game against anybody, but especially Seattle and the King, is a crap shoot.

    So, yes, this trade is about improving the A’s chances of winning it all, against whomever hey end up playing.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      It’s not about the Tigers. It’s about the A’s getting better starting pitching. Tommy Milone’s numbers are a mirage and Chavez is wearing down.

      Verlander should focus on figuring out why he has the 10th worst xFIP among qualified starting pitchers this season.

  11. scatterbrian - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    I’ll admit it, it was about the Tigers.

    And the Angels, and Mariners. And the Blue Jays, and perhaps the Orioles, and maybe Kansas City. And the Yankees, of course.

    Plus all the NL contenders, at least the ones outside the NL Central, probably.

    Not to mention losing half of last year’s playoff rotation to Tommy John surgery.

    Or the fact that Friday’s patchwork rotation depth chart consisted of dudes projected to set career highs in IP, soft-tossing lefties, and a brittle guy who missed all of 2011-2012.

    There were several factors at play here, all with an eye toward winning the West securing the top seed in the AL. And if that goes well, not having to rely on worn out or homer-prone starters to get them through October.

    And, they have one of those guys all of next season too.

    If Verlander and his ego want to use this as motivation that’s their business.

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