Blog Entry

The best pitcher in the game

Posted on: June 15, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 7:24 pm
Justin Verlander has two no-hitters. He has a 91-55 career record, with a 19-win season, two 18-win seasons and a 17-win season.

He has a rookie of the year award, and he's pitched in a World Series and two All-Star Games.

And when I asked a scout who has followed his career to describe his last few starts, the guy said: "Maybe the light went on."

I understood exactly what the guy meant.

As good as Justin Verlander has already been, there was always a sense that he could be even better. I know he believed that.

He's so good now that he's a threat to throw a no-hitter in any start, so good that he can throw 100 mph in the ninth inning, so good that the same scout said that Tuesday night against the Indians, Verlander's best pitch was actually his changeup.

"He was unhittable," the scout said. "Very, very dominant."

Another scout who has followed Verlander's career said his performance Tuesday was the best he's ever seen.

The best he's ever seen from Verlander -- or from any other pitcher.

"He had three 80s working on the same night," the scout said, referring to the 20-80 scale scouts use to rate players. "His fastball was 93-98 [mph], with 80 command. His curve was jagged lightning with 80 command, and he had an 80 change with 80 command.

"Pure stuff, it's the best in baseball, and I can't imagine any pitcher in the history of baseball with three pitches like that. Nolan Ryan never had a changeup like that."

Verlander was so dominant, in a complete-game two-hit shutout of the Indians, that as I watched on television I found myself asking whether any pitcher in baseball is better.

Felix Hernandez? Roy Halladay?

If you had one game you had to win, is there anyone you would rather have pitch it than Justin Verlander?

"He's not overthrowing now," the first scout said. "He's so fluid. The stuff has always been so electric, but now he's channeling it.

"If he can continue to do that, he will be the best pitcher in the game -- the best."

I asked a bunch of scouts the same question in February 2010, when the Tigers signed Verlander to a five-year, $80 million contract that is beginning to look like a real bargain.

At the time, nobody I talked to put Verlander first, but a bunch put him in the top five, some as high as second.

Right now, he might well top the list. He might be the best pitcher in baseball.

Maybe the light went on.


How big is Verlander?

Big enough that he has earned first-name treatment in a New York tabloid.

The New York Daily News led Wednesday's major-league roundup with Verlander's shutout, with the headline: "Justin flirts with no-hitter."

As someone pointed out, it could have been confusing, because Verlander was pitching against Cleveland's Justin Masterson on Tuesday night.

But no, there was no confusion. At this point, if it's a no-hitter or near no-hitter, we know who Justin is.

Category: MLB

Since: Dec 2, 2011
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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 9:22 am

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Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 21, 2011 10:26 pm
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Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 12, 2011 9:49 am

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Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: June 22, 2011 1:52 pm

The best pitcher in the game

And next year he will have to muster up 19 starts 12 wins to keep up with the incredible caree that you guys ahve proclaimed Halladay has had since day 1
Before you do anything else, show me where I've ever said that Halladay was dominant from "day 1".  Obviously, you can't, since it doesn't exist.  So, instead, just recognize that you either made this statement up out of thin air, or are so blinded by your need to defend a guy we both like that your mind created an argument that was never there.

R-E-A-D.  It's good for you, and you'll make a lot more sense when you post if you give it the old college try.

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: June 22, 2011 1:48 pm

The best pitcher in the game

Show me the stats that debunk my views on Halldays career during his 1st 7 years.

Are you a complete idiot?  READING is fundamental.  Try it.  I have never argued anything about the beginning of Halladay's career.  In my last post, which you would know if you READ it, I clearly state that Halladay's path to dominance is well documented.  Like Verlander, Halladay didn't start off as dominant.  He struggled in his second season more than Verlander ever has.  Why are you arguing a point I've never tried to make? 

Considering he was having better seasons than Justin Verlander's best season TEN years ago, this seems to be, you know, made up.  In fact, it is.
Remember, this was in response to your ridiculous falsehood that Roy Halladay only started getting in done 3 or 4 years ago.  Roy Halladay's 2002 season was better than Justin Verlander's best season of his life.  Do the math.  That was 10 seasons ago.  If you don't understand the concept of inclusive numbers, return to grade school to bone up.

The bottom line remains.  Justin Verlander has never had a dominant season.  You're such a fan, you think his partial season this year puts him in the running as the best pitcher in the game.  If you're arguing that Verlander has had a more solid beginning to his career than Halladay did, you really just like to argue - I've never said otherwise.   But by the same point in Halladay's career he had already had at least one dominant year and a Cy Young award pitching in the toughest division in baseball.  Scoring was also higher, but even including the abysmal 67 inning 2000 season as a full year, Halladay's ERA over his first 5 seasons was .06 higher than Verlander's over his first 5.  Not that it's relevant whatsoever, given that my point is about the greatness that Halladay has achieved and the fact that Verlander has yet to do so.

I really don't understand how you can be so thick.  You argue points I've never contended over and over again.  You make stuff up, then contradict it.  You say 2002 was dominant for Halladay, then say he wasn't dominant until 3 or 4 years ago.  Surely even you know 2002 was more than four years ago.  Surely.  What hasn't changed is the fact that Halladay has shown sustained dominance, with at least a half dozen seasons better than Verlander's best year, Verlander HOPES to get to that level one day.  And maybe he will.  But he's going to have to do a lot more than have a superior partial season before he is considered the best, and he's going to have to avoid getting shelled in the playoffs at least once. 

Best wishes to Verlander in ultimately achieving Halladay's level of dominance.  I like Detroit and I like Verlander.  He's a solid professional with dominant stuff, and it would be great for baseball if he maintains his current pace.  Here's a little food for thought before you annoint him the Second Coming, though..... Justin Verlander's ERA has been higher in the second half in every single full season of his career.  ALL of them.  In four of the five ('06, '07, '08, '10) , his ERA in the second half has been at least a half run higher in the second half than the first.  In two of those his ERA was higher by more than ONE AND A HALF RUNS (2006, 2008).  Maybe Verlander will repeat his 2009 performance, where his ERA only climbed slightly.  But one would have to ignore history to not expect a significantly less impressive second half. 

I'll leave you with those best wishes because I've made the fatal mistake of daring to point out the obvious to a blind fan who refuses to listen to what the argument really is, acknowledge the lack of dominance of "his guy", READ, and reason.  Good luck to you, Verlander, and Detroit. 

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