ALCS Pitching Preview: Justin Verlander


Up two games to none in a best-of-seven series with the best pitcher on the planet scheduled to start Game Three is one hell of an enviable position. Unfortunately the Yankees are on the other side of that coin, down two-zip in the ALCS and slated to face Justin Verlander in his home ballpark tonight. That ain’t pretty.

Verlander, 29, put together another brilliant regular season — 2.64 ERA and 2.94 FIP in 238.1 innings — and seems to have gotten the postseason monkey off his back with a dominant ALDS showing. He came into 2012 with a 5.57 ERA in eight starts and 42 playoff innings but held the Athletics to one run in 16 total innings last week. Verlander was the worst possible matchup for the free swinging and strikeout heavy A’s, a description that unfortunately fits the Yankees’ offense at the moment as well.

2012 Performance vs. Yankees

Date Tm Opp Rslt Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF Pit
Apr 27 DET @ NYY L,6-7 6.0 7 5 4 0 4 2 0 2.41 26 102
Jun 3 DET NYY L,1-5 L(5-4) 6.1 9 5 3 4 4 2 0 2.67 30 114
Aug 6 DET NYY W,7-2 W(12-7) 8.0 9 2 0 1 14 0 0 2.51 35 132
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/15/2012.

The Yankees saw Verlander in all three series against Detroit in the regular season, beating him twice before that career-high strikeout total-tying performance in August. That game broken a stretch of six consecutive starts (playoffs included) against New York in which the right-hander allowed at least one first inning run.

The Yankees have actually hit Verlander harder than any other AL team in his career, a span of 13 starts and 345 batters faced. The problem is that his career started in 2005 and most of that information is irrelevant. The Yankees managed to hang five runs on him twice this year, but that still isn’t encouraging. Even if the offense was clicking on all cylinders at the moment, beating Verlander would still be a tall order. Now that they’re mired in a team-wide mega-slump, it seems like generating offense off him with take a miracle.

Pitch Selection (via Brooks Baseball)

There is no mystery here. Verlander gets ahead with his mid-to-high-90s fastball (he famously adds velocity in the later innings) and puts hitters away with his knee-buckling upper-70/low-80s curveball. He’ll also throw a mid-80s slider to righties that breaks more down-and-away (like Joba Chamberlain‘s) than side-to-side. Verlander’s mid-80s changeup has morphed in a knockout pitch against lefties because he throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball. Felix Hernandez might have something to say about it, but there’s a very strong case to be made that the Detroit right-hander has the best pure stuff in the business. Two top of the line pitches in the fastball and curveball plus two other above-average offerings in the slider and changeup. Just filthy.

Performance & Results

vs. RHB 420 0.265 3.06 23.6% 6.0% 44.1% 35.7% 20.3% 7.8%
vs. LHB 536 0.266 2.86 26.1% 6.5% 40.8% 35.5% 23.7% 8.7%

Well, I hope you weren’t looking for a platoon split because Verlander dominates everyone. Maybe right-handed batters have a slightly better chance against him because he strikes out a touch fewer, but … nah. The guy is a machine and any team that faces him should run their very best lineup out there and forget all about platoon splits. The problem is that the Yankees don’t have a very best lineup right now, at least nothing outside of Mark Teixeira and Raul Ibanez in the middle of the order. The only thing I have to add here is that Verlander will let you steal a base, so anyone who reaches base tonight should be thinking about a stolen base as soon as possible.

Categories : Pitching, Playoffs


  1. Eddard says:

    They’ve gotten to Verlander in the past and they will again tonight. Robbie Cano won’t go 0-35 for the series. Ichiro hits Verlander well. So does Chavy but he probably won’t play. Phil pitches well in Detroit so the final score will probably be something like 6-3 Yanks.

  2. Burn Girardi's Binder says:

    Goodnight Pinstripes

    • MannyGeee (Phil says:

      hooray for Troll-Tober!

    • jjyank (Phil Phucking Hugheslladay) says:

      Goodbye Tigers/Mets/Red Sox fan!

      • Burn Girardi's Binder says:

        Wrong. Lifelong Yankees fan. This team has just disappointed me for too long these Playoffs for me to have any real hope left. Sad.

        • Robinson Tilapia (I Believe in Scoring Runs!) says:

          Which season in which they made the postseason during this stretch of making the playoffs for every year except one since 1994 was the worst calamity for you? We really feel your pain. It’s so hard being a fan of a team of which you just take making the postseason for granted.

          By the way, can you actually see my middle finger from here?

          • Jim Is Bored(Hughes the man?!) says:

            Let me help you in case he can’t.


          • Burn Girardi's Binder says:

            Christ dude take a fucking chill pill. You act as if me having an opinion is the biggest hardship since you got that fat hooker pregnant.

            I haven’t given up on this team, I never will. It’s just hard to have faith. But that doesn’t mean I won’t fight and stick with them to the bitter end.

            • Jim Is Bored(Hughes the man?!) says:

              I vote mysoginist, intolerant of religion, and intolerant of fat people.

              Also please, please tell us how else we’re supposed to interpret “Goodnight Pinstripes”

              • Burn Girardi's Binder says:

                Give me a break accusing me of all that. And yeah, I guess I’ll give you credit being skeptical of me saying “goodnight pinstripes”. That’s just how it seems. Nobody can deny that things look bleak. But that being said, things aren’t completely over yet. They still have to play the games.

            • jjyank (Phil Phucking Hugheslladay) says:

              Now you’re just back tracking. Saying “Goodnight Pinstripes” reeks of trolling and infers that you have very much given up if you are actually a Yankee fan (which I still doubt).

        • JohnC says:

          Yes it is, when someone who claims to be a lifelong fan turns and quits on his team before its over. Phony!!

        • jjyank (Phil Phucking Hugheslladay) says:

          No, pretty sure I’m right.

  3. MannyGeee (Phil says:

    “Verlander was the worst possible matchup for the free swinging and strikeout heavy A’s, a description that unfortunately fits the Yankees’ offense at the moment as well.”

    Oh yeah, forgot about this… bum out.

  4. Stanley Silver says:

    DA BUMS never left NY—-they just moved to a new stadium & this bunch are not a sportswriter’s lovable nickname—-THIS BUNCH ARE THE REAL DEAL!

  5. mustang says:

    “The only thing I have to add here is that Verlander will let you steal a base, so anyone who reaches base tonight should be thinking about a stolen base as soon as possible.”


  6. Frank says:

    Hopefully, Verlander won’t be too strong, having lost his energy from laying the wood to Kate Upton over thw last 48 hours. Lucky bastard.

  7. dkidd says:

    phuck verlander

    play with some phucking phire

    phorce the action

    just phucking win

  8. Jose M. Vazquez says:

    Hope that Hughes has a HUGHE game today and that we get some important hits and runs. I have not given up on this team even though they have looked so dismal.

  9. Genteme says:

    They hit nearly nothing from starters this postseason. They win 3 of 5 from BAL is because CC performed, Jim Johnson gave the chance and Raul Ibanez smashes. The rest of lineup except Jeter, Ichiro and Teix were totally a joke.

  10. Mister D says:

    Looking at the data, I’d suggest the Yankee hitters get ahead in the count which reduces him to be a 2 pitch pitcher, then eliminate one, zone the other and fucking launch. Easy, right?

  11. Wayne says:

    Is verlander really 29. I did not know that I thought he was as old as Phil Hughes. Weren’t they drafted the same year in 2004. Any way this is Verlanders time. He is 29 and this is Leyland’s last year. If he does’ nt step up now against us ,the tigers may not be in this position again. My gut tells me it’s over after tonight for the Yankees. As far as verlander in offseason if this guy is going to be 30 years old , I could see them trading Verlander in offseason if they don’t win this year the world series. Probably goes to the national league or you could see them trade him to the mariners for their prospects and you have Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander as One and two starters in seattles rotation. Wow what a big trade that would be!

    • Detroit_yankee says:

      Verlander signed an extension through 2014. He’s not going anywhere. And if anything, the Tigers are better positioned for next year once they jettison Valverde and Benoit and shore up the bullpen, and replace Peralta at SS.

    • Robinson Tilapia (I Believe in Scoring Runs!) says:

      They’re not trading Verlander, not with some nice young pitching behind him and those two behemoths in the middle of the order. This is a very good team.

      I’d, however, volunteer to help them tie the anchor to Valverde’s car.

      • MannyGeee (RUN SUPPORT, BITCHES!!!!) says:

        What are you talking about, I would totally sign Prince Fielder for close to a decade so I can trade away the best pitcher in the AL for prospects. Makes total sense!

  12. Detroit_yankee says:

    Verlander can be beaten – even the Royals hung 8 ER’s on him back in August.

    7 of those in the first two innings.

    Here’s hoping the Yanks can grab an early lead.

  13. Robert says:

    Just Hope Hughes continues to gain playoff expierence for the future.As far as Yanks concerned the Fat Lady hasnt sung yet but they are bringing in the wood for the Hot Stove right now.

  14. Valverde Shotgun says:

    Let’s blow the doors off the reigning MVP. Verlander gets so juiced up for playoff games, all it takes is one cookie over the middle and one man to sack up and launch it to turn this offense around. Let’s get it.

  15. Booker T says:

    Justin Verlander, we comin’ for YOU.

  16. Miked says:

    Over,/under is 1 hit

  17. Thunder Road Runner says:

    This is mostly on Hughes’shoulders tonight… hard to see the Yanks getting more than 2-3 runs off Verlander. Would like to see Gardener starting and stealing….and somebody wake up Cano!

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      No, this is mostly on the offense. They need to score runs and let Phil do the best he can. Just wake up the bats. It’s a tough battle gainst Verlander, but that’s what needs to happen.

  18. Robinson Tilapia (I Believe in Scoring Runs!) says:

    Stephen A. starting out with a bang this afternoon.

  19. Jack says:

    what is the point of these pitcher profiles. You could do one on a little league pitcher and the Yankees will still score 0 runs of him.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      I think they have more to do with informing us fans of what we should expect to see from Verlander than they do with informing the Yankees. As far as I know, Mike doesn’t ork for the team, so the Yankees are unlikely to review the info he provides. (Although sometimes I wish they’d take a look here. They might learn something.)

    • vin says:

      For those of us listening on the radio, it’s nice to know what the guys are most likely swinging and missing at. Mo knows John and Suzyn won’t share that information.

  20. Luisergi says:

    I’d throw Strasburg’s as the best pure stuff in the game.

  21. mitch says:

    i wonder what his pitch count limit is today? I’m guessing leyland lets him throw 150 before he considers valverde

    • thenamestsam says:

      This. Yankees should go out and be aggressive, because there isn’t much point in trying to work his pitch count. Leyland will ride him hard tonight if he’s effective knowing that a win tonight should guarantee Verlander a nice long rest before the first game of the World Series. Get him early if you can.

  22. Joe F (Philthy Phil Uuuuse) says:

    We need to hit against Verlander like his first two starts vs. us.

  23. YardDog says:

    Hey Mike, I know this isn’t a short term solution, but have the Yankees ever thought of setting up a team phsychologists for the postseason when the players are really struggling? I know it is quite common in tennis and golf, but I am not sure how popular sports psychologist are in baseball. Could be something to help out some players who seem to be constantly pressing in October

    • Robinson Tilapia (I Believe in Scoring Runs!) says:

      I’d wager they’ve thought of this already.

      • MannyGeee (RUN SUPPORT, BITCHES!!!!) says:

        yeah, but them Jeter starting talking about his girl troubles, A-Rod was sad because no one took him seriously and picked on his lips, CC talked alot about his childhood and the reason he thinks he overeats, AJ went all AJ on him…

        And the shrink was all like… “that’s cool and all, but you guys should probably go hit the fucking ball, mmkay?!?!”

    • thenamestsam says:

      Even if they did do it, you can be sure they’d keep it awfully quiet. Can you imagine the reaction in the press and among the dumber (tried to think of a nicer way to phrase this and then gave up) fans if it came out that ARod was using a sports psychologist? The number of “mental midget” posts would be in the hundreds around here.

    • Jose M. Vazquez says:

      I know that John Smoltz and Andy Pettitte have used one at one time or another. I may have suggested this last year.

  24. mick taylor says:

    my only hope is that verlander did not pitch that great against the yanks, tampa, angels, pre-gutted red sox, and great mostly against weak teams. his era against those good teams is not great

  25. RBC says:

    The only hope is that Verlander bombs tonight. He occasionally has a crappy performance.

  26. Thunder Road Runner says:

    This is huge for Hughes tonight, the whole season on his back…But hey, no pressure…

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