|Justin Verlander on Tuesday against the Twins:|
7.2 innings, seven hits, one walk, eight strikeouts, one run.
Tuesday's win against the Twins gave the Tigers ace his 18th win of the season and 101st of his career. He's leading the American League in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts, and his ERA is more than a full run better than his career low.
As matters stand, he should win the AL Cy Young, easily.
The Tigers have a long tradition of great outfielders, starting with Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford and running through the likes of Harry Heilmann, Heine Manush and Al Kaline. They've had a scattering of Hall of Famers at other positions as well — most prominently Hank Greenberg (who did play left field as well as first base) and Charley Gehringer (second base).
But great pitching has not been a Detroit hallmark. The Tigers' career record for wins is held by Hooks Dauss, who won 223 games from 1912-26. If you knew of Hooks Dauss before reading this post, you are a baseball historian.
The only pitcher who made the Hall of Fame for what he accomplished as a Tiger is Hal Newhouser, who won a pair of MVP awards during World War II and racked up records of 29-9, 25-9 and 26-9 in the three years 1944-46. Newhouser won exactly 200 games as a Tiger.
Newhouser is almost certainly the greatest pitcher in Tigers history, ahead of Dauss and Jack Morris and Earl Whitehill and everybody else.
Verlander has a real chance to be the best. He's only 28, he's demonstrated that he's the rare hurler who can consistently throw 120 pitches without getting hurt, and this year he's learned pacing. He no longer tries to throw his best fastball every time. He saves the 99 mph stuff for when he really needs it.
As a Twins fan, I don't like seeing him pitch against the Twins; as a baseball fan, I appreciate what I see when he does.