Justin Verlander is supposed to be the foundation of the Detroit Tigers.
For the last few years, and especially in Detroit's back-to-back division championships, Verlander was the solution to every one of Jim Leyland's problems. Offense not having a good day? Verlander would make a run or two stand up. A losing streak starting to build up? JV was never better than he was after a Tigers loss. Bullpen beaten up? The ace was always going to give you at least seven innings.
This season, though, Verlander hasn't been that automatic solution. After the best April of his career and a near no-hitter in early May, he has probably been the worst starter in Detroit's loaded rotation. In his last 15 starts, he's 6-6 with a 5.22 ERA - numbers that a contenting team would hate to see from a No. 5 starter, much less their ace.
Despite a rough first half, Jim Leyland took Verlander to the All-Star Game. If the move was designed to remind him that he belonged in that company, it backfired badly. ...