Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 6/19/13
After four solid starts in a row Justin Verlander struck a bit of fear into the hearts of Detroit Tigers fans last night when the Baltimore Orioles roughed him up. During the month of May, JV saw his ERA jump from 1.93 to 3.66 over the span of just two starts. He seemed to right the ship until last night, when the hard-hitting O’s hung 7 hits (2 homers) and 5 earned runs on him in just 5 innings of work, dropping his record to 8-5 in the process. Verlander’s season long ERA is now 3.72 with a shady 1.35 WHIP. Consider that in 2011 and ’12 his WHIP was 0.92 and 1.06 respectively. Justin Verlander is missing some swagger The translation? He is giving up hits by the barrel-full and walking more than he’s used to. To find a season of comparable stats you’d probably have to go back to his rookie season of 2006 when he finished 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Verlander’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) allowed this year is .344. The highest it has ever been in a full season for the franchise player was .319 back in 2009. So is this an indicator of Verlander being unlucky or simply easier to hit? His lifetime BABIP is .287. A closer examination of his numbers this year reveals some interesting factoids. First, his strikeout/9 inning ratio is at an all-time high of 10.37. Yet his 3.13 walks/9 would be his highest mark by a long shot with the exception of his wobbly 2008 campaign. However, his home run and ground ball rates are right on par with his norm. Some fans point to his decreased velocity as a reason for his lack of success. Last year he averaged 94.3 MPH on his heater. This year he’s at 92.6. He did show in Tuesday night’s loss that he can still ramp it up to 97 when needed, but it doesn’t seem to come along with the same command we saw over the past few seasons. Another factor leading to the overall decrease in fastball speed is that he isn’t lasting as long into games as he did in 2011 and ’12. He already has 5 starts this season in which he hasn’t lasted past the 5th inning. 100 pitches and 6+ innings used to be his floor and the later innings were when he would dial the fastball up to 97-100 MPH. Last longer and the overall velocity may increase along with the innings. Verlander, recipient of a contract worth around $200M, has essentially performed as Detroit’s 4th best starter this year. That is not a proper return on investment. Will the overly competitive athlete that he is be able to step up his game? From my perspective, command seems to be his primary issue this year. He will follow up a nasty curve ball on the black with a fastball way out of the zone. Or he’ll laser beam two straight fastballs on the inside corner and then hang the curveball. JV’s ability to command his elite arsenal was what raised his game over the past two years. His inability to do that with similar consistency in 2013 is exactly why he has fallen a few rungs from the elite. Is it mental? A confidence thing? That seems very possible. Is it something personal at play? We’ll probably never know that answer, but something is different. The tenacious bulldog who used to toe the mound with an air of ‘you can’t touch me’ has been replaced with a guy who is searching for the proper flow and feel. It certainly isn’t time to panic in regards to Justin Verlander, but it might be time to pay closer attention to what is holding him back. To receive an email each time a new Tigers article is published, fill out the Email Notification Form [Follow me on Twitter @isportsJoe]

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Adam Jones: US motivated by Puerto Rico’s celebration plans

United States wins its first World Baseball Classic

Jim Ross’ wife Jan dies from injuries due to Vespa crash

Report: Larry Brown to meet with LIU Brooklyn about coaching job

Report: Jay Cutler garnering 'zero' interest around NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Paul Millsap to opt out of contract, become free agent

Martellus Bennett calls out NFL to do more to build up communities

NBA disciplines Raptors’ Serge Ibaka, Bulls’ Robin Lopez for fighting

Jason Day tearfully withdraws from PGA event to be with ailing mother

Matt Barnes on Derek Fisher chants: ‘I’m sick of that s—’

Brent Musburger admits he once bet on a game he broadcasted

Box Score 3/23: Team USA wins their first WBC title

The 'Duke schadenfreude season came early this year' quiz

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Box Score 3/22: Team USA is heading to the championship

The 'With teammates like this, who needs rivals?' quiz

Re-ranking the Sweet 16 for the NCAA Tournament

What you need to know for the World Baseball Classic semis

NBA Western Conference bottom feeders to watch down the stretch

MLB players most likely to break out in 2017

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

The 'With teammates like this, who needs rivals?' quiz

Re-ranking the Sweet 16 for the NCAA Tournament

What you need to know for the World Baseball Classic semis

Eastern Conference bottom feeders to watch down the stretch

The Patriots are offseason champs for once

The 'Who will ruin your glorious bracket this year?' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker