Yeah, I said it. And I’m sticking by it. Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander went out yesterday and proved, once again, that he is the best pitcher in the American League.
Verlander didn’t have his best stuff and admitted “This start wasn’t that great,” but he still managed to toss his second straight complete game in a 9-1 win over the Rockies at Coors Field. Verlander improved to 9-3 with the win and notched his fourth complete game of the season (matching his total from all of last season).
Despite not having his best stuff, Verlander allowed just four hits, no walks and one earned run, while striking out five. A solo home run by Ty Wigginton was all that stood between Verlander and a shutout.
The sixth-year pro has now won seven straight decisions and last suffered a defeat on April 27.
Here’s where we get all statistical and prove “Big V” is the AL’s best pitcher. He currently leads the American League in innings (120.2), strikeouts (110), WHIP (0.85) and wins (9, tied with Jon Lester and Max Scherzer). His 2.54 ERA places him fourth, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.23 is also fourth-best. Meanwhile, opponents are hitting just .181 against him (second-best) and he also has two shutouts and a no-hitter on his ledger this season.
Last season Verlander finished the year 18-9 with a 3.37 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 219 strikeouts in 224.1 innings. In 2009 he was 19-9 with a 3.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and led the AL with 269 strikeouts and 240 innings pitched.
While Seattle’s Felix Hernandez is a heck of a pitcher and Tampa Bay’s James Shields is having a great year, there is no one in the American League who is as consistently dominant as Verlander. In fact, other than Roy Halladay we can’t think of a pitcher in either league that even compares to what Verlander has done over the past few years.