Verlander: the "5th starter" of 2013

Another day, another Verlander start, another chance to consult my Inception Totem to see whether I'm still in a nightmare where it will be "Bad Verlander" on the mound, or whether I'm awake and it will be "Good Verlander" on the mound.

I think I was as concerned as anyone by the time we'd reached June and Justin still hadn't hit his stride, but I was still willing to say, "It's still early - or at least "early-ish" - he's got time to turn it around." Now that we're in August and I'm still rolling the dice when JV comes to the mound, I'm more willing to concede the point: Justin Verlander has absolutely sucked wet washcloths this year.

This is not to endorse the prevailing mindset of They Who Post Elsewhere (I'm looking at you, Facebook and MLive), where it is common to see things like, "Verlander needs to be traded!", or "Time to put Verlander in the bullpen." Not at all.

But I am willing to say that I've run out of excuses for Justin Verlander. And I'm willing to say that I actually feel more comfortable with Rick Porcello on the mound.

I know what the peripheral numbers say. And I also know that there are enough slice-em/dice-em stats out there to make even Jim Leyland look like a decent pitcher in 2013.

Here are the numbers that seal the deal for me: run support vs. win-loss percentage. People are so quick to blast the win-loss numbers, and for good reason. A lot of it has to do with the amount of run support a pitcher gets. I understand that. But Justin Verlander's win percentage, when stacked up against his run support numbers, make me want to cry.

Going into today's game (Aug. 22, 2013), Justin Verlander has received the second-highest amount of run support of all the starting pitchers. It's been that way for a very, very long time. Only recently has Anibal Sanchez moved up to tie with Verlander for that privilege. Here is the run support breakdown:

  • Scherzer -- 6.0
  • Verlander -- 5.3 (22 starts)
  • Sanchez 5.3 -- (18 starts)
  • Fister -- 4.6
  • Porcello -- 4.5

Let there be no complaints, then, about Verlander's win-loss percentage being affected by his run support. In fact, comparing pitcher run support to pitcher-based win-loss percentage reveals something rather troubling: Verlander is being out-performed by Porcello.

Looking purely at each pitcher's win-loss percentage, Porcello sits at .562, while Verlander is at .545. Verlander has the lowest win percentage, despite receiving the second-highest amount of run support.

In fact, in games where the Tigers' offense has posted five or fewer runs, with Verlander on the mound, the team is posting a record of 3-12. With Verlander on the mound, and with the offense scoring six or more runs, the team is at 10-1. In plain English: with the team's erstwhile "ace" on the mound in 2013, the offense has to put up at least six runs in order to have a winning record, because apparently scoring five runs isn't enough to secure a win with Verlander pitching.

As the run support numbers drop, so does Verlander's ranking among the team's five-man starting rotation.

In games where the offense posts four or fewer runs, here is the team's win-loss percentage by starting pitcher:

  • Scherzer -- .625
  • Fister -- .417
  • Porcello -- .250
  • Sanchez -- .182
  • Verlander -- .083
And in games where the offense really chokes and only puts up three or fewer runs, here is the same breakdown:
  • Scherzer -- .500
  • Fister -- .222
  • Porcello -- .100 (10 games)
  • Verlander -- .000 (9 games)
  • Sanchez -- .000 (7 games)
Say what you want about Scherzer getting the most amount of run support from his offense - these numbers show that he, along with Fister and Porcello, are making the most out of the run support they receive, even when the offense can only manage to put up three or four runs. If the offense can't score more than three runs with Verlander on the mound in 2013, it's a lost cause. At least with Porcello on the mound in that situation, you have at least a 10% chance of the Tigers winning the game. Not "great," but better than Verlander's 0% at this point.

Time to put Verlander in the bullpen? That would be so incredibly stupid I'd have to consult a thesaurus just to adequately describe the insanity of that line of thinking. Time to fire Justin? What is this, the Huge Show? Time to admit that Verlander has a serious [censored] problem in 2013 and quit making excuses for it?

Yeah. Definitely.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.

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