Saturday, August 27, 2011

Verlander First to 20 Wins

Justin Verlander pitches on Saturday.
Tigers ace Justin Verlander pitched Detroit to another victory, becoming the first pitcher in the big leagues this season to win 20 games.  Verlander didn't shut down the opposition as easily as usual, yielding four runs, but the Tigers generated enough offense to beat the Twins 6-4.  The Twins scored their runs by scoring two in the fifth and two in the sixth.  In the fifth, Verlander gave up back-to-back home runs to Luke Hughes and Jason Repko.  In the sixth, Hughes struck again, doubling home Danny Valencia and Rene Tosoni.  Verlander gave up eight hits in his six innings, but five of those occurred during the fifth and sixth innings.  Verlander struck out six and walked three in the victory.  The Tigers scored two in the first inning on home runs by Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila, two in the fifth on a double by Ryan Raburn and a single by Austin Jackson, and two in the seventh on singles by Delmon Young and Miguel Cabrera.  Jose Valverde picked up his 39th save and has yet to blow a save all season.

MVP voters must consider Verlander as a serious candidate.  Clearly, the MVP is rarely awarded to pitchers (the last pitcher to win the award was Dennis Eckersley in 1992).  However, Verlander has been just that good on the mound and just that important to the Tigers.  With his 20th win today, Verlander is the first pitcher since Curt Schilling to win 20 games before September.  Think about that... 20 wins is considered an amazing season and Verlander still has an entire month to win more games.  He leads the AL in strikeouts (218), WHIP (0.90), and batting average against (.190).  He is second in ERA (2.38), K/BB ratio (4.71), and second in K/9 (9.10).  Need I say more?  Without him on the roster, the Tigers don't make the playoffs.  However, if the Red Sox don't have Adrian Gonzalez and the Yankees don't have Curtis Granderson, both teams still probably make the playoffs.  Verlander has been the best player in the AL as well as the most valuable player to his team.  He is going to win the Cy Young Award and with a good September, let's hope that he gets the MVP respect that he deserves.

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