Justin Verlander -- author of two no-hitters, winner of a Most Valuable Player award -- is used to making history. Not this kind.
Tuesday against the Oakland A's, Verlander needed 44 pitches to get through the first inning. Verlander has thrown more than 1,800 innings in the major leagues, including the postseason. Never before had he expended so many pitches in a single frame, according to STATS LLC.
Verlander allowed two runs in the inning and three more before the end of a 6-3 loss. He had a bad night, which was not a problem by itself. The issue is that bad nights for Verlander no longer come as a surprise.
Verlander, 30, was the best pitcher in baseball over the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Now he has the fourth-best ERA in the Detroit Tigers' rotation, and, yes, it is time to worry.
The reason is this: Verlander's biggest problem relates to something beyond his immediate control -- that is, all the pitches he threw before this year.
Including the postseason, Verlander has throw...