The Case For Justin Verlander
- Name me one game either Zack Greinke, who has emerged as pretty much everybody's darling for the Cy Young, or Felix Hernandez, who has also been brilliant, has pitched under pressure?
Every outing, Verlander has been on the spot. The Tigers don't score a lot of runs. They've been in this constant struggle to hold onto first place since May 10. Seems like every game Verlander takes the mound holds a "must win" meaning to it. Verlander has pitched tough innings under difficult circumstances. That means a lot more than splitting hair with stats.
Oh, and by the way, Verlander does lead the league in strikeouts. He does have a 17-9 record.
Verlander's overall ERA is 3.41, but he allowed 21 earned runs in his first 21 innings and four starts this season. Since then, his ERA is 2.83.
Then there is the matter of the best pitcher. Do Greinke or Hernandez throw harder than Verlander? No. Are their off-speed pitches better. Not really. What about track record? Overall, who has been better in their careers. Despite last season, Verlander is still 20 games over .500 in his career - and the winningest pitcher in the major leagues 26 or younger.
Not to belittle Greinke or Hernandez. They are both having great seasons. It just seems like all the focus is on one stat - ERA. I'm not sure, in the same circumstances, Greinke and Hernandez would be able to perform as successfully as Verlander has this season. He's won. His team is in first place.