an Verlander, the 39-year-old Geumgang Buddha, go against the times?
Last year, Justin Verlander returned from Tommy John surgery. Few people positively viewed the return of the 39-year-old pitcher who blew the entire 2021 season. Saying “It’s like going back to 2019” when Verlander won his second Cy Young Award didn’t give me any credence.
Verlander’s words were true. Last year, Verlander went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA (185 strikeouts in 175 innings). His ERA of 1.75 was the lowest American League record since Pedro Martinez’s 1.74 in 2000 (excluding shortened seasons). At the time, Martinez was 28 years old.메이저놀이터
Last year, Verlander had no official no-hitter. However, he did not record a hit while digesting 5 or more innings in a total of three games. Last year, Verlander was the first player to have three no-hit games of five or more innings in a single season. During the first season of Tommy John’s return, Verlander, who was constantly managed, showed off his power as in his prime.
Verlander, who won the league’s most wins and ERA title, won the third Cy Young Award in his career. It was a unanimous award winning 30 first place votes. Verlander was the 11th player to win the Cy Young Award three or more times in his career, and Verlander was the first player to win the Cy Young Award in the first year after returning from Tommy John surgery. Everyone thought Verlander’s time was over, but Verlander made his mark by becoming the fourth-oldest Cy Young Award pitcher.
Oldest Cy Young Young pitcher
2004: Roger Clemens (42 years, 60 days)
1978: Gaylord Perry (40 years, 17 days)
1959: Early Win (39 years and 267 days)
2022: Justin Verlander (39 years and 227 days)
Verlander, who returned splendidly, also signed a contract hotly. He signed a two-year, $86,666,666 contract with the New York Mets. The annual average of $43,333,333 was the highest in the major leagues like Max Scherzer. If Verlander throws 140 or more innings next season and there are no issues with his right-arm test, he can exercise his $35 million player option (though Verlander may decline, of course). The part that allowed him to collect up to $750,000 in bonuses for individual awards, including the right to refuse trades with former clubs, shows how generously the Mets treated Verlander.
But Verlander veered off course from spring camp. The starting point was the loss of restraint at the spring camp. “If it had been the postseason, he’d have played,” Verlander said lightly, but ultimately didn’t make the Opening Day roster. Verlander, who had previously undergone core muscle surgery, complained of pain in the teres major muscle in his right upper back. He repeatedly emphasized that he was not in a serious condition, but he felt embarrassed in many ways for missing the opening game of the newly transferred team.
The Mets didn’t rush Verlander’s return. Accordingly, Verlander made his comeback on May 5, about a month after the opening. Coincidentally, the opponent was his former team, the Detroit Tigers. The venue was Comerica Park, the home of Detroit, not Citi Field, the home of the Mets.
On this day, Verlander allowed a back-to-back home run in the first inning. Afterwards, he finished the mound with 2 runs in 5 innings without allowing any additional runs. However, his first appearance was a loss as the batting line was blocked by opposing pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez’s excellent pitching (8 scoreless innings) and he was not supported for scoring.
Verlander faced the Cincinnati Reds in his next appearance. He also gave up one run in the first inning, but blocked 7 innings with 1 run and reported his first win after transferring. This victory also had special meaning. Verlander, who suffered only one loss without a win against Cincinnati, who had met only twice before, scored his first win against Cincinnati. Cincinnati was the last team Verlander won’t win. This made Verlander the 21st pitcher to win all clubs since 1998, when major leagues expanded to 30 clubs.
Last year, Verlander said by the time he played the fifth game of the season, “I got that feeling back when it was good.” And he ran 8 scoreless innings, 5 scoreless innings, and 6 scoreless innings in three games. He gave up massive runs twice in his remaining appearances, but he knew firsthand that he was in better shape last year.
▲ Collapsing Verlander
Currently, Verlander is digesting the 5th game this season. His first 5 games last season was 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA, but this season he is 2-2 with an ERA of 4.80. Unlike last year, when he was confident, he is still at a loss this year. His first appearance at home after a win over Cincinnati was poor, allowing 6 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings. He pitched well in the next appearance, allowing 1 run in 8 innings, and then collapsed again in the next appearance with 9 hits and 6 runs in 5 innings. Toxically, the shaking at the beginning of the game is repeated.
Verlander Changes in ERA/hit percentage by innings
1st – 3rd: 7.80 / 0.307 (15 innings)
4th – 6th: 2.25 / 0.186 (12 innings)
7th – 9th: 0.00 / 0.000 (3rd inning
) it was a field However, even considering that part, Verlander this year has definitely increased the anxiety index compared to the previous season. In particular, the power of the breaking ball dropped dramatically.
Verlander’s four-seam fastball velocity this season is not much different. He averaged 95 mph last year and 94.3 mph this year. His four-seam batting average slightly increased from .194 last year to .213 this year, but it is difficult to conclude that his four-seam pitch has declined because of this subtle difference.
The problem is the breaking ball. The second pitch slider is holding up, but the third pitch curve is severe. The curve, which had a career batting average of .179 before this year, has now become a batting ball with a batting average of .353 and a batting average of .706. Even if the sample is small, the poor batting quality when throwing a curveball means that hitters are hitting the curveball with ease. Verlander also admitted in a recent interview that his control of the curve is not going his way.
Last year, Verlander had the highest percentage of four-seam at 50.4%. However, there were not many cases where the four-seam was used as a deciding ball. At the crucial moment, the slider and curveball took the place of the four-seam, and the three pitches were in perfect harmony. However, this year, as the slider and curve matched, the number of four-seams used as the deciding ball increased. Verlander’s four-seam is no longer a powerful weapon that can induce hitters to swing freely. As a result, Verlander’s strikeout ability decreased this year.
Verlander, who had 12.11 strikeouts per nine innings in 2019, maintained that 9.51 last season after returning from Tommy John surgery. However, this year, it has decreased noticeably to 6.60. It is the lowest record since 6.00 in the debut season in 2006. Last year, Verlander’s strikeouts were quite high at 69.2% of breaking balls. This year, the number of strikeouts naturally decreased as the breaking ball did not work.
▲ Nolan Ryan
Verlander, who turned 40 last February, is an age that is not unusual even when deterioration comes. He also said that even if he retires right now, he’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame in five years. However, if you think of Nolan Ryan, who revealed that Verlander is his idol and goal, Verlander still needs to be shown more. Ryan, who played 27 seasons in the major leagues, kept the mound until the age of 46.
The biggest difference between Verlander and Ryan is the changeup. Ryan began honing his changeup in 1981, at the age of 34. And five years later, in 1986, he finally got his changeup back on track. In fact, New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez saw Ryan’s changeup in spring training and recalled, “I wasn’t happy as an enemy that he found another primary weapon.”
Ryan reached another heyday with a changeup completed after hard work. Beginning in 1987, he topped the league in strikeouts for four consecutive years. He also showed off his seventh career no-hitter game in 1991. In 1991, Ryan was 44 years old. Ryan commented on his changeup right after achieving his no-hitter:
“The changeup is the most important pitch to me. In the absence of an explosive four-seam, the one that complements my four-seam is the change-up. He allowed me to throw. If I hadn’t thrown a changeup, my four-seamer would have lost its power.”
Verlander also knows the need for a changeup. That’s why I try out my changeup at spring camp every year. He even sought advice from Ryan himself. However, he is hesitant to use a changeup in practice this year as well. Even Verlander, who became the best pitcher, still has unresolved tasks.
Is Verlander’s crisis a temporary phenomenon? If the slider and curve survive, he will be able to revive from the next appearance. However, it seems that Verlander will have to prepare another way to truly become the Nolan Ryan of this era.