Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What's Up With Justin Verlander?

The numbers say a lot about Justin Verlander's struggles. No wins. An ERA over 7.00. But it's not just the results that are alarming. It's the way he throwing the ball. Once of baseball's few 100 mph pitchers, he is lacking zip on his fastball.
And what that does is put in motion a chain reaction. There is less separation between his fastball and changeup in terms of velocity, therefore making his changeup less effective. It also has the same bearing on his breaking ball. The other factor is, he seems to lack an "outpitch" to get him out of trouble. It was his changeup or 100 mph - when his velocity was up.
There are a couple things Tiger fans should be hoping for here. One is that there is nothing wrong with him physically. Verlander, obviously, is as key to the Tigers' success as anybody on their roster. And secondly, that he isn't spooked by the prospect of being their ace. He needs to develop the same type of will and aura Jack Morris had, where he seemed to get the job done in crucial starts - even when he didn't have his best "stuff."



Random Thoughts

- It was amazing how quickly the blame was put on Dominik Hasek when the Red Wings lost just one playoff game Monday night.
He had played well in Game 1 and Game 2 against Nashville. The Red Wings would not have won those games without Hasek's stellar play. He made several tricky saves.
He was all right in Game 3 despite the loss, but what happened in Game 4 Wednesday was unacceptable. It was a soft goal he allowed to Nashville's Greg DeVries that took away all the momentum the Red Wings had developed.
It was a killer. The Red Wings lost the game and are in a precarious spot in an opening round playoff series again because of it. And it was the cardinal sin of goaltending in the playoffs.
A team like Nashville is able to go into a defensive shell after taking a lead like that. Doesn't matter if the Red Wings are carrying the play and bombarding the net with shots. Nashville's Dan Ellis, you see, was up to the task in net. Hasek wasn't. And this is the first time Ellis has played in the playoffs.
Chris Osgood is the obvious choice to start in goal for the Red Wings in Game 5 Friday. He played well in relief of Hasek, but it was too late.

- I have heard buzz about the Lions schedule being difficult, but honestly I don’t see it as daunting. They should get off to a good start. They will be facing Atlanta and San Francisco within the first three weeks on the road, but neither one of those teams is very good. The home game in-between is the Packers, but they will be adjusting to life without Brett Favre, and the Lions have had some success against the Packers at home down through the years. Other than a road trip to Indianapolis, their non-division road schedule is kind (Houston is the other road trip). I think the biggest issue is whether the Lions have improved in relation to other NFC North teams. I have to think the Bears and Vikings will be better than last season, although it’s not like either has solved their quarterbacking woes.
This is a better schedule for the Lions than they had last season. If they make a couple decent moves on the draft day, and play sound fundamental football, it is (and please don’t start laughing at me) not out of the realm of possibility they can make the playoffs.

- Dallas has put Anaheim on the brink of elimination. The road is being paved nicely throughout the playoffs for the Red Wings. But it is up to them to not blow it during this opening round against the Predators.

- Did you know: Chris Osgood has lost his last five playoff series dating back to 2000. His playoff record since is 10-20.

16 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

I agree book - when I heard people talking about it, it seemed ludicrous. Falcons, a Favre-less packers, San Fran (huge disappointment last year), and the Bears at home after a bye - how could you even ask for a better opening 4 games?

3:35 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Hey Pat: It call being fortunate that they are only 4.5 games out and maybe this is the year for the Tigers. I don't think the Indians are thrill with their start either. Tigers need, as advertised, keep hitting, their starting pitching come through and just turn off the radio/tv when the bullpen takes over. Well some are doing okay with Lopez, Seay, Jones and Miner all have a WHIP under 1.2

4:35 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Chris,
You couldn't ask for a better four opening games. The second half is still tough, but they could gain momentum by then - and perhaps sustain it this time.
Caputo

12:14 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Barry,
Watch out. The Tigers just might be coming on.
Caputo

12:16 AM 
Anonymous Tim said...

Pat,

Hasek is done. He is not a playoff goalie any more. Definitely his last year, I hope. As has been said, the Wings are good enough that the goalie doesn't have to be the first star, he just has to show up and play decent in net. Hasek is letting in easy shots from the blue line and lost the 4th almost single-handed. Hand the reins over to Ozzie, please. Letting in that 3rd goal after Wings tied it up was just plain awful.

12:50 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Tim,
I couldn't agree with you more. It was alarming. That shot definitely should have been stopped.
Caputo

11:04 AM 
Blogger Steve said...

Pat,

It amazes me when people (especially people like you, whom I respect, and have lived in the area all their lives), look at a Lion's schedule and see teams like S.F. and Atlanta and think we can definitely win those games. Have you not been watching the same team I have for near 40 years now? What on earth could make you think we are better than those teams? Do you realize that every team that has the Lions on their schedule are looking at that game and saying, "There's a win."? Why, Pat.... why? :-)

5:32 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Book,

Seems that Detroit sports fans better learn some alchemy. After all, any hope for a satisfying outcome for the Wings and the Tigers are going to depend on some magicians. The "Wizard of Oz" for the Wings and the "Wizard of Woodward" for the Tigers.

I was scanning the Tigers schedule until the All-Star break. At that point I'm expecting that the Tigers record will be between 50-45 and 55-40. Starting on Memorial Day the Tigers are on the West Coast for nine games. I'm thinking that they need to go at least 4-5 on the left coast.

Then things really get interesting with a ten game homestand. The middle three versus the Chisox seem very key. Especially, since this will be the only head-to-head games between these teams from last weekend until the last weekend in July.

But I'm getting way ahead of things. First the Tigers need to get their record back to .500. Preferably before their West Coast trip. Hopefully, the Wings will still be skating when they do.

5:42 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Steve,
I think you make a great point to counter mine. What are the Falcons thinking about opening the season with the Lions? My point is the schedule at least gives the Lions a fighting chance to get off to a decent start.
Caputo

6:26 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
I just wonder why the Red Wings and Tigers can't both win on the same night. Is it too much to ask for Detroit's fans?
Caputo

6:27 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

The Wings are suffering from the common ailment of "we-can't-win-there". The condition is common across al NHL teams - and how good the team is does not matter. The team is convinced they can't win there. It's even worse in a series where you have home ice advantage and you can't win at home.

What gets teams out of that is a good fight. That seems to clear up the misconception.

Laugh if ya want, it's true.

But who's in net ain't the Wing's problem right now.

Now it's dicey because they aren't sure they can win at home either.

--

My wife asked a good question last night during the Verlander innings. "Wasn't Inge catching during Verlanders last big smash up?"

I can't find the stats - but he might have been - and some pitchers need a certain catcher.

PS - I'm not blaming Inge - just the fact that Verlander might have difficulty for some reason pitching to Inge - not personalities - just psyche.

One last point - I'm sick of hearing how these guys are professionals. That chemistry doesn't matter. They're ball players who make a wad a money - they're guys. Their not friggin robots. They usually have bigger attitudes than most. Like the Rock star who has to have red m&ms in their dressing room or they won't perform. He's getting paid too.

There was a day before our time guys when it was considered dispicable for an athelete to accept money to play ball.

They're professionals. Gimme a break. Sorry Skip.

2:11 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

I have notice too Pat, I think in all his outing he has not thrown a ball near 100 m.p.h. I hope it is a simple as changing his routine or preparation between starts. I hate say it, but his delivery is not as smooth as Bondo, Ryan, Clemens or other stars and could run across injury. He could be the next Jack, you know, goes out and dogs it, but I think there is only one Jack though. Just joking about Jack, he was great, maybe Jack before turning pro hurt his shoulder throwing a slider. Your right Jack was one of the best competitors Tigers ever seen.

1:05 PM 
Anonymous claudio said...

Its obvious that Verlanders psyche is out of wack on the mound, but the real question is , why the heck is Leyland keeping him in even after he completey falls apart. This is not only a pitching dilemma but a managing one.

4:34 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I think ultimately the Red Wings issues may run deeper than goalie, too. They just don't finish well - and that's a problem. They'll get by this series, but might be in trouble in later rounds unless they get untracked offensively.
Caputo

6:18 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Barry,
I've always thought Verlander has a pretty good delivery. He is an extraordinary athlete, but he clearly isn't throwing as well as usual - and it is concerning.
Caputo

6:20 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

cluadio,
Leyland is trying to get as much as possible from his starters to help his depleted bullpen. Verlander is supposed to be the biggest contributor in that regard, but hasn't gotten it done.
Caputo

6:22 PM 

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