Friday, September 20, 2013

A Crazy Person Says Justin Verlander Should Join the Bullpen

There was a time when I would get upset that ESPN and major sites online would seem to ignore the Tigers and only focus their attention on the Yankees and Red Sox. I’m beginning to miss those days.

Multiple people sent me a link to this column. It’s yet another piece at Yahoo.

But first, I want to say something about the article I ripped on in yesterday’s piece. The author emailed me and explained that it was actually written three weeks ago. Yahoo, for whatever reason, chose to publish it now. That does make a bit of difference in the matter. And I want to thank Grant for having a sense of humor about the whole thing. No one should ever take me too seriously.

So calling it the worst piece I’ve ever read on the Tigers? I take that back. Especially after tonight.

Because this ridiculous column about sending Justin Verlander to bullpen…it trumps anything else I’ve read in stupidity by a mile.

When the Detroit Tigers made Justin Verlander the highest paid pitcher before the 2013 season, it appeared baseball's best starter was only going to get better.

Obviously. Because in sports, when you give someone a lot of money, they ALWAYS continue to produce at exactly the same level until they retire. I dare you to come up with one guy that didn’t produce after getting paid.

/thinks of 400 such players in 5 seconds

What the team has witnessed this year has been far from a dream: it's a terrible nightmare.

I agree, if you’re talking about the absurd amount of playing time Don Kelly gets. I sometimes wake up shaking and screaming in the middle of the night.

Verlander has struggle for

I has struggle to read this mess.

much of the year, earning a rough 13-12 record

Yes, those important pitching wins. Such a great stat. But in seven of JV’s twelve losses, the Tigers have scored two runs or less, including being shut out in four of them. It’s hard to get a win when your team doesn’t score for you.

Your flawed stats are much rougher than his record.

with a 3.66 ERA.

That 3.66 ERA is the 18th best in the American League. Awesome? No. But not worth executing the man for.

Though he has 195 strikeouts, the 30-year-old has yet to find an out-pitch, five months into the season.

195 strikeouts is good for 5th in the AL. And his 8.51 K/9 ratio is good for 8th. That’s kind of hard to do without having an out pitch.

Before we continue, I’m not about to pretend that Verlander has been the JV of the past couple years. He hasn’t. He has had command issues all season and is no longer pitching like the most dominant starter ever. Plus, he’s had some bad luck as his .313 BABIP might tell you. But he’s still pretty good. According to pitching WAR at Fangraphs, he’s been the 6th best pitcher in the AL and 11th in all of MLB.

Nah. Let’s stick with pitching wins and losses. That fits your narrative better.

Maybe it's fans having unrealistic expectations after a 24 win 2011 season capped off with the Cy Young award. Or maybe it's a pure example of a fireballer suffering from wear, tear, and age.

He’s 30. Not 38.

But his latest showing, September 18 against the Seattle Mariners, takes the cake.

Maybe that’s why Prince stole that guy’s nacho today. Poor guy was hungry because JV took the cake. What a jerk.

Also, note that the author is referencing this past Wednesday, September 18th’s game. No using the old “Yahoo lost my article for three weeks” excuse THIS TIME!

(I kid, Grant.)

Verlander lasted seven innings, but allowed three earned runs,

Seven innings and three earned runs? Holy thunder. And they let him stay on the team?

including a solo homer to Justin Smoak against a light-hitting Mariners team that won 8-0.

Oh, are we blaming Verlander for the five runs Seattle added on after he left the game? Phil Coke thanks you.

Maybe we should make Coke a STARTER again! Shake things up!

With the playoffs just two weeks away, the Tigers will be forced to make some difficult decisions. It's time they start doing that now.

Agreed. Let’s sacrifice Don Kelly to our Dark Lord Beelzebub. That kind of stuff worked for Jeter and the Yankees for years, I’m told.

No one misses Shane Spencer. No one will miss Kelly.

Send Verlander to the bullpen.

Oh. That’s what you meant. Hmm. Give me a second here.
Sigh. Okay. Go on. Fuck it.

Two years ago, heck, even last year, this would've been a crazy idea.

Not only is it still a crazy idea now, today, and this very minute, but, heck, it is the worst idea I’ve ever heard. And I was around when Leyland had the idea to bat Kelly third in a game.

But Verlander has fell so far from those days

In 2005 with the Marlins, Dontrelle Willis was 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA, a 152 ERA+, 7 complete games, 5 shutouts, and a 7.2 WAR.

Three years later in Detroit, he was a punchline that couldn’t find home plate if he had walked the ball up there.

That is falling “so far”. Not dropping from “best pitcher ever” to “really good pitcher”.

that even the Tigers' fifth starter, Rick Porcello, has out-pitched him.

Verlander: 3.66 ERA, 206.1 IP, 195 K, 8.51 K/9, 3.45 FIP, 4.5 WAR
Porcello: 4.45 ERA, 168 IP, 130 K, 6.96 K/9, 3.70 FIP, 2.7 WAR

Please explain to me how Porcello is out-pitching Verlander. I’ll wait.

If the postseason started today, there would have to be some serious consideration to choose Porcello over Verlander, especially with a stronger infield defense anchored by Jose Iglesias.

Or don’t explain it. Just keep saying stupid shit.

Verlander hasn't been himself at all this season, and the playoffs are no time to try to regain his confidence and ability to overpower hitters with ease.

Actually, the playoffs are no time to try and pretend that Rick Porcello is a better pitcher than Verlander. This is so beyond ridiculous that I don’t want to continue with it.

BUT I WILL. The shit I do to entertain Tigers fans, I swear. I’m a hero, dammit.

Again, the proof that he's not himself is found in his recent outing against the Mariners.

Yeah, making rash, uninformed decisions for the playoffs should be taken from one start.

Keep in mind, Verlander went seven innings and allowed only three runs.

Offensively, Seattle ranks in the bottom nine amongst major league teams. Their .239 average ranks 27.

The Marlins are last in MLB in runs with 489. To get to the next worst, you have to climb to 562 by the White Sox. The Marlins are terrible.

On July 12, the Fish scored 7 earned runs in only 2 innings off of the amazing young Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg. Does this mean Strasburg sucks and should be shot off of a catapult and into a volcano?

No. It means he had a bad day. For the entire season, Strasburg is seventh in the NL in ERA. To make a rash decision based on one random regular season start is beyond fucking stupid.

Especially when that start is 7 innings, 3 earned runs.

Verlander allowed three walks in the shutout, something that's received attention with his command issues.

Again, he hasn’t been the MVP/Cy Young Verlander this season. No one is saying that. But he’s walking 3.10 guys per 9 innings this year, not 8.10. Hell, Anibal Sanchez is close to that mark by walking 2.72 per 9. And he IS a Cy Young candidate.

The Tigers have been shutout 11 times this season. Four of those have occurred with Verlander on the mound. Sure, Verlander only controls one side of that spectrum with him never picking up a bat. He can't account for the run support teammates provide him with.

Hey, you finally made a good point.

But that's not the point.


Verlander's still considered an ace,

Simonson named his kid "Ace". I hate that term forever now.

the type of pitcher whom gives his team an opportunity to win a game every five days.

Yet, he hasn't done that consistently this season, as Max Scherzer has taken over that duty

You’re either insane or lying for the sake of getting people to click on this preposterous article.

The Tigers are scoring 4.99 runs per game. So to give his team an opportunity to win a game, let’s say he needs to allow 4 earned runs or less in a game.

Verlander has started 32 games. He has allowed four runs or less in 26 of them. He has allowed two runs or less in 14 of them. He has allowed 0 runs a team high six times.

And you say he hasn’t given them a chance to win? Get fucked with a Pringles can.

Sending Verlander to the bullpen before the playoffs begin could be exactly what he needs.

This is true if what Verlander needs is to feel betrayed by his organization. Or does he need to be embarrassed by the ballclub for no reason? Or it could be true if what Verlander needs is for his team to make the stupidest move in baseball history.

Scherzer had a similar demotion in 2010, but was rather sent down to Toledo to work on his craft.

In 2010, Max Scherzer was a young pitcher having mechanical flaws with less than two full seasons of MLB experience. He was sent down to work on some things and returned after he had sorted them out.

In 2013, Justin Verlander is in his 8th full MLB season, has an MVP Award, a Cy Young Award, and has finished in the top five in the Cy Young voting four times. He is having a “down year” for him that most pitchers would kill for it to be an “up year” for them.

These two things are about as alike as the hitting power of Miguel Cabrera and Ramon Santiago.

He returned to Detroit a much better pitcher and continues to be on the verge of winning his 20th game.

Again, you’re comparing apples to dump trucks. Also, it is now three years after Max was sent down. And by the way, the year after this life-changing minor league stint you speak of, Scherzer’s ERA jumped nearly a full run to 4.43 in 2011 from his 3.50 in 2010. Good thing you weren’t around then. Max would be on mop-up duty nowadays with Luke Putkonen.

So far, Verlander has avoided that type of demotion, even during his awful 2008 season. Being baseball's highest paid pitcher and having 137 major league wins, bullpen duties might turn out to be an embarrassment, but it could help Verlander turn his game around.

How? Give me one possible way moving Verlander to the bullpen in September or October could help him get better?

I’ll wait again.
Of course you didn’t come up with one. Because you’re clueless. You know what? Crusty ‘ol Jerry Green from the Detroit News might have a point about today’s sportswriting on the internet. It does suck. It breaks my heart to say that, too.

At this point, anything's worth a shot.

Except what you are suggesting. Because it is unnecessary, stupid, and insane.

The Tigers are now 3-9 in games started by Verlander since the All-Star break.

Verlander’s earned runs allowed in those twelve games: 5, 3, 1, 1, 4, 2, 6, 3, 0, 4, 3, 3.

Two bad starts. Two meh starts. And eight where he allowed 3 runs or less. He went 6 innings or more in 10 of the 12 starts. He went 7 or more in 7 of the 12.

Is he at a MVP or Cy Young level? No. Not this season.

But to suggest that he’s become some sort of albatross on this team that needs to be sent out of the rotation is bullshit on a level that I cannot even comprehend.

If they want to make a deep postseason run, it's time the team considers making a change.

Fuck off, kid.

This article was written for Yahoo by the sports editor The Michigan Journal, a college newspaper.

Do better in the future, Yahoo. I beg you.

Or, fuck it. Keep this going. What will be the next story from a Yahoo contributor? We’ve already gotten “bench Miggy three weeks after it might have made sense” and “demote Verlander for allowing three runs” from them this week. C’mon, guys. Don’t stop now!

Here are some free suggestions. GET THOSE PAGE CLICKS!

“Jose Iglesias: Worst Defensive Shortstop in History?”

“Don Kelly May Be the Finest Tiger Hitter Ever”

“Tom Brookens: Third Base Coach of the Millennium”

“Revisiting the Doug Fister Trade…Mistake by the Tigers?”

"The Secret To Detroit's Success: PRUNE JUICE?"

“Prince Fielder Should Bunt More”

Better yet, do stop. No more Tigers articles. I’m unbalanced enough as it is. Go back to your fascinating HOT TAKES on how Alex Rodriguez is ruining your lives by existing. Go back to telling the world how SCRAPPY that Dustin Pedroia is.

Leave my team alone. We were doing fine without you.

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