The great Jim Leyland, manager of the Detroit Tigers, seems to always believe in his own decisions. Detroit Tigers fans have to be hoping that Leyland is deciding to go with Justin Verlander for as long as he can carry his team.
This is not something that would go against Leyland's grain.
Look how often Verlander's name appears in the top 20 games of pitches thrown in a game this season:
|1||Johan Santana||2012-06-01||NYM||STL||W 8-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||0||5||8||0||134||77|
|2||Edinson Volquez||2012-07-05||SDP||CIN||W 2-1||GS-7||7.0||5||3||10||0||133||82|
|3||Justin Verlander||2012-08-06||DET||NYY||W 7-2||GS-8 ,W||8.0||9||1||14||0||132||96|
|4||Justin Verlander||2012-04-16||DET||KCR||W 3-2||CG 9 ,W||9.0||7||2||9||0||131||85|
|5||R.A. Dickey||2012-09-27||NYM||PIT||W 6-5||GS-8 ,W||7.2||8||2||13||1||128||92|
|6||Cole Hamels||2012-07-21||PHI||SFG||L 5-6||GS-8||7.2||10||3||6||3||128||83|
|7||Felix Hernandez||2012-06-28||SEA||BOS||W 1-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||5||1||13||0||128||84|
|8||Justin Verlander||2012-06-09||DET||CIN||W 3-2||GS-6||6.0||6||3||9||0||127||85|
|9||Derek Lowe||2012-05-15||CLE||MIN||W 5-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||6||4||0||0||127||76|
|10||Trevor Cahill||2012-09-29||ARI||CHC||W 8-2||CG 9 ,W||9.0||4||3||9||1||126||81|
|11||Dan Haren||2012-05-24||LAA||SEA||W 3-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||4||0||14||0||126||83|
|12||Josh Beckett||2012-04-29||BOS||CHW||L 1-4||GS-7 ,L||6.2||6||3||8||1||126||85|
|13||Felix Hernandez||2012-04-19||SEA||CLE||L 1-2||GS-8||8.0||5||1||12||0||126||75|
|14||Chris Tillman||2012-07-04||BAL||SEA||W 4-2||GS-9 ,W||8.1||2||2||7||0||125||79|
|15||Carlos Zambrano||2012-06-26||MIA||STL||L 2-5||GS-7 ,L||6.2||8||5||5||1||125||73|
|16||Jake Peavy||2012-06-19||CHW||CHC||L 1-2||CG 9 ,L||9.0||5||1||5||0||125||83|
|17||Matt Cain||2012-06-13||SFG||HOU||W 10-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||0||0||14||0||125||86|
|18||Clay Buchholz||2012-06-07||BOS||BAL||W 7-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||4||1||6||0||125||78|
|19||C.J. Wilson||2012-05-22||LAA||OAK||W 5-0||GS-8 ,W||8.0||1||2||7||0||125||75|
|20||Justin Verlander||2012-09-02||DET||CHW||W 4-2||GS-8 ,W||8.0||4||2||11||1||124||80|
- Verlander threw 3768 pitches this season and 268.1 innings to lead the league and the Tigers will need him to give them pitches and innings tonight because the A's are ready to come back against Jose Valverde and the Tigers bullpen.
- Valverde saved 35 games but blew five saves during the regular season after going 49-0 during the 2011 season.
- The average team in the AL blew 16 saves: the Tigers blew 16 saves.
- The average AL team had 73 holds: the Tigers had 74.
- The average AL team allowed 29% of inherited runners to score; the Tigers allowed 31% of these taxing runners to score.
- The average AL bullpen lost 19 games; the Tigers lost 23, only the White Sox and the Mariners' pen lost more with 25.
What's going on with Valverde?
Jose Valverde in 2011
Yes, I know this is a red blob, but look at the breakdown of his pitch location:
I will explain: Valverde threw 1209 pitches, 48.7% were in the strike zone, 29.1% were in the vertical middle of the strike zone, 28.1% were down, 29.5% were on the inside, 24.0% were in the horizontal middle, and 46.5% were away.
Jose Valverde in 2012
The differences are subtle, but they exist.
You can see the differences in pitches in the vertical middle, particularly against lefties. The other differences can be found on inside pitches, which may reflect either a lack of control or lack of confidence.
Here's Valverde's 2012 postseason:
There is no blob.
Valverde, who dropped on avg pitch speed from 91.9 in 2011 to 91.3 in 2012, has dropped to 90.7 in postseason.
Here's his location:
Look how many pitches are up now up in the zone...waiting to get hit.
I don't know if there is something wrong with Valverde or he is simply a tired pitcher, but expect Leyland to give Verlander the ball tonight and unplug the bullpen phone.