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Justin Verlander: “Oh No, Not Him”

October 18, 2012

Baseball

According to playersfrom.com there are 72 athletes who were born in the state of Virginia. One of the best of those 72 is would probably be Justin Verlander. Justin Verlander is from Goochland County, Va and attended Old Dominon University in Norfolk, VA. From a very early age Verlander developed speed and command as a pitcher that helped him to dominate at every level of baseball he has played at. Verlander has developed as a pitcher and boasts one of the most controlled fastballs in Major League Baseball. His fastball can be anywhere from 95 to over 100 MPH, and he can do it at any point of the game. This keeps opposing batters wondering which fastball they are going to get on which pitch. Not only is his fastball intimidating, but he also has a slider, curve, and circle change-up to throw opposing batters off their game. All this said Justin Verlander is dominant when it comes to throwing a baseball towards home-plate.

We have seen his dominance rise to a whole new level this postseason. It’s not even fair for opposing teams to face him right now because he is doing so well. Right before Game 3 in the ALCS match-up against the New York Yankees the headlines read:

“Oh No, Not Him.”

This is quite a statement for news reporters to make, because it shows that there is a level of fear that the Yankees have entering the game against Justin Verlander. What has Verlander done in order to make news reporters and fans alike to have this thought as the Tigers prepare for another ALCS playoff game.

Well lets look at his past. Verlander began his amazing climb by showing his natural ability clocking in 86 MPH fastballs in high school and continued to work to increase his velocity and his control.

He was recruited to Old Dominion University (ODU) and in 3 years at ODU Verlander struck out 427 batters (Still an ODU and CAA Record) and posted a 2.57 ERA.

This was good enough to get him drafted by the Detroit Tigers and after only a couple of years he was grown into a major league pitcher. He began his major league career in 2006 with his Rookie Season.

Now if I were the first batter he had ever faced in Major League Baseball and I was aware of his stats through High School, College, and in the Minor Leagues my first thought would be “Oh No, Not Him.” In his first season he went 17-9, had a 3.63 ERA and struck out 124 batters on his way to taking the Rookie of the Year award.

That season started him on what has the potential to be  considered one of the best pitching careers in Major League history when he is all done. Verlander has won 124 games with a 3.40 ERA and 1454 strikeouts. He has 5 All-Star appearances, a Cy Young, AL MVP, and has a 20 win season in 2011.

Wow, how do you not get scared when stepping into the batters box against this guy? Verlander’s utter dominance leads opposing managers and hitting coaches to work with their players leading up to their date against him. But how do you prepare for a man who holds his opponents’ batting average to .211?

Short answer: You really can’t.

Long answer: The man has such a fine command of all of his pitches that he can limit the speed of his fastball or dial it up if need be. He controls it so well that he actually becomes more dangerous as the game goes on. On the first pitch you could see a fastball at 95 MPH, followed by a deceiving curve ball that just drops when it crosses the plate, then a 98-100 MPH fastball to strike you out. Even if you do get a bat on it, you will  most likely ground out or pop-up, and his statistics support this. HE even broke a bat on a 100 MPH pitch.

100 MPH pitch breaks bat

By evaluating these stats we can see why news reporters and teams alike respond to seeing Verlander with the sound byte “Oh No, Not Him.” The postseason has been no different with Verlander already posting 3 wins in 3 starts all of which he went 7 innings or longer, including a complete game shutout in game 5 of the ALDS against Oakland.

Right now the Tigers are up 3-0 on New York and barring a Red Sox-like comeback from the Yankees I think it is safe to assume they are off to the World Series. In thinking about that, and based on the way the Giants/Cardinals series is going the Tigers may have a lot of time off. This means that Verlander will probably start one of the first two games in the series to ensure he will be able to pitch a deciding game 6 or 7 if those are needed.

There is no pitcher I would rather have on the mound for my team than Justin Verlander. His dominance and tenacity in the game, along with the relentless momentum and stamina he shows, is a good sign for Detroit Tigers fans as they look to the future for their storied franchise.

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About Andrew Ware

Seminary student at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. and graduate of Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA. But most of all a follower of Jesus Christ.

View all posts by Andrew Ware

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