Justin Verlander | Pitcher | #35
2014 salary: $20 million
2013 statistics: 3.46 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 218.1 IP, 19 HR, 75 BB, 217 K, 3.09 BB/9, 8.95 K/9
Projected role: Bullpen Just kidding. Rotation.
The Tigers’ ace had what most would consider an “off” year in 2013, as he seemed to battle his own mechanics for much of the year. Verlander put up decent numbers, overall, but not what we’ve come to expect from the one-time AL MVP.
A lot of the “blame” was placed on mechanical issues, which Verlander worked doggedly to correct during the season. At one point, Verlander said he was giving himself until the end of the regular season to “get right.” The results varied, but Verlander seemed more like his old self down the stretch and, true to his word, Verlander seemed right come playoff time. In the months of September and October, Verlander posted his best numbers:
39.2 IP, 2.27 ERA, 34 H, 48 K, 10 BB, .234/.284/.317/.601
Some might try to pass Verlander’s late-season dominance off as a small sample size, and that certainly has its merit but Verlander believes the results came due to his in-season mechanical adjustments. And Verlander is still making adjustments this spring, as he works his way back from “core muscle repair surgery” (basically sports hernia surgery).
Verlander also appears to be on track to start the regular season with the Tigers, and was to make his spring debut before his start was rained out. He ended up throwing in an indoor batting cage.
As for what we might be able to expect from Verlander in the coming season, 16 to 18 wins seems reasonable. Expect him to top 200 IP, but we probably won’t see him throwing 230 to 250 IP. ZIPS projects him to rebound a bit from 2013, posting a 17-7 record, tossing 216.7 IP, striking out 225, and allowing only 60 free passes. That would be a very, very good year for Verlander.
He’s probably not going to have another season quite like 2011 (in my opinion, his 2009 season was a little better but that’s neither a here or there). If you look at his numbers, his 2013 season is pretty darn similar to the numbers he was putting up prior to 2011. You could argue that 2011 was his peak, a career year, and 2013 was him finally returning to his true form. Then again, you could point to his September and October as a reason for optimism.
Verlander lost his “ace” title to Max Scherzer during the 2013 season, and you know he’d like nothing than to take it back in the coming season.