Some of you may recall that when the PECOTA projections for 2015 were released, many people thought PECOTA was a little higher on Justin Verlander than widely believed, including by other projections. He was projected to have a 3.30 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, and a WHIP of 1.20. Injuries to his abdominal area, followed up with a strained triceps, meant he got a late start on his season, but now I think we have enough of a sample to see where we stand with Verlander, and how things could look going forward.

 

(All stats as of 8-24-15)

On the surface, it seems like Verlander hasn’t improved over his disappointing 2014. His ERA is sitting at 3.86, with 6.9 K/9. However, in six starts after a disaster start on July 19, his ERA is a svelte 1.67 with a 8.4 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9. There are signs of life here. His cFIP is down to 94, which is an improvement over last season’s 99, and his DRA is a surprisingly low 2.89. Some of that may be the fact that his opposition’s TAv is a career high .268, and he’s lost 5 runs in the DRA formula due to framing, defense, and the other myriad of things that go into that formula.

Looking at the data, since that start on July 19, he seems to be hitting his spots better. Not as many pitches missing up in the zone and hitting the corner low in the zone more often, as well as just throwing more strikes in general, as you can see here.

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There’s still a long way to go, but it looks like Verlander is now a slightly above average pitcher, with a chance to improve a bit moving forward. To answer my own question, is Justin Verlander back? Probably so, but it’s just regular Justin Verlander, not JUSTIN F’ING VERLANDER that we all enjoyed from 2009-2012. That guy may be gone forever, but rumors of Verlander’s overall demise may have been greatly exaggerated.

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