Friday, June 30, 2006

Verlander is exceptional

I don't know if Tigers' rookie right-hander Justin Verlander really deserves his reputation as one of the best young pitchers in baseball. Actually, the title as one of the best pitchers in baseball - period - is more apropos. Who has won more games? Nobody in the American League. His ERA of 3.13 is third in the American League. And he has won pitching matchups against the both Cy Young Award winners from last season, Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins and Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals. Beyond the numbers is the talent. The 99 mph fastball. The ability to pitch backwards when necessary. He'll double up on his change up or breaking ball and then bust his 99 mph fastball in on hitters sometimes. Verlander can do this because he has command of all three of his pitches like a veteran. In talking to Tigers officials and coaches last summer for a cover story I did on Verlander and Joel Zumaya for Baseball America, they were amazed at his athleticism. It's why he was abl e to get his pitching mechanics in order so quickly for a taller pitcher with limited college success, and why they don't fall out of sync, which often happens to taller pitchers. He has five pickoffs as a right-hander because his feet are exceptionally quick. I know, he hasn't thrown that many innings before and everyone in this town is knocking on wood that Verlander doesn't come up with some sort of arm ailment. I know, a lot of people are looking at him and wondering if what they are seeing is an illusion. But maybe, just maybe, it isn't. Perhaps this is real, and this kid is really that good and might be baseball's next great pitcher. At the very least, he should be on the All-Star team. Actually, he deserves strong consideration for being named starter. The numbers do not lie.

Random thoughts

- Left-handed hitting infielder Todd Walker told the Chicago Tribune recently the Cubs are looking to trade him. He plays first base and would be an ideal fit for the Tigers. They need a left-handed hitter that makes consistent contact. He's also been a good clutch hitter on contending teams in the past.

- Here's a prediction: Portland's Brandon Roy will be next year's Chris Paul and emerge as the NBA's best rookie. And if Roy doesn't, Minnesota's Randy Foye will. They will be, by far, the two best rookies next season. Yes, better than Charlotte's Adam Morrison.

- I'll be the first to admit I don't know squat about soccer, but from what I can tell, Brazil seems to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field in the World Cup. That team just does everything at a much faster pace and with more precision than other teams.

Verlander is exceptional

4 Comments:

Blogger MOORETHANWORDS said...

i GREW UP IN MICHIGAN THINKING THAT MARK "THE bIRD" FYDRICH WAS THE GREATEST YOUNG PITCHER EVER TO ENTER THE BIG LEAGUES, AND ALL YOU EVER HEAR ABOUT IS WHAT A SENSATION HE CREATED AROUND THE CITY AND MLB WHENEVR AND WHEREEVER HE PITCHED. nOW i AM CONVINCED THAT MAYBE HE WASN'T THAT GREAT, BUT IT WAS ALL HYPE BECAUSE OF HIS THEATRICS ON THE MOUND. i SAY THIS BECAUSE JUSTIN VERLANDER HAS MORE WINS AT THE HALF WAY POINT THAN FYDRICH DID, AND NOT TO MANY PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT HIM, AND BASEBALL AMERICA HAS HIM LISTED AS THE FOURTH BEST ROOKIE PITCHER IN THE LEAGUE. VERLANDER SHOULD BE AS BIG AN ATTRACTION AS FYDRICH WAS AS A ROOKIE PITCHER WHO IS BLOWING THE LEAGUE AWAY. IF YOU WANT ANOTHER COMPARISON, TRY COMPARING VERLANDER WITH THE DONTREL WILLIS AND HIS ROOKIE YEAR. HE HAD INCREDIBLE HYPE AND WAS ALL OVER SPORTS CENTER, HE DID NOT HAVE TEN WINS BEFORE THE ALL-STAR BREAK.

2:00 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Todd Walker is what the Tigers need. Not sure what price we should pay to get him. Maybe the Cubs would take cash, Spurling, and another mid-tier prospect.

2:42 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Pat,
Love your column, keep up the good work.

3:10 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Verlander throws harder than "The Bird" who was incredible in his own right for reasons that went beyond his performance on the mound. I don't think Todd Walker would cost them a front line prospect, but probably somebody from the next tier, maybe even somebody as good as Brent Clevlen or a Jordan Tata. The Tigers would be wiser to move a pitcher than a position player in this instance because they have pretty good depth among pitchers in the minors, but not some much among position players. thanks for the compliment.
caputo

6:08 PM 

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