Detroit concernced over Verlander, Indians add to Bullpen
The American League Central race at the midpoint of the season is separated by just one game at the top. The Detroit Tigers own a 43-36 record and are one game ahead of the second place Cleveland Indians. The Kansas City Royals are 5 ½ games behind and Minnesota 6, while the Chicago White Sox are 10½ back.
The Tigers, as they head to the second half of the season, must be concerned with their pitching especially their ace Justin Verlander. Since 2006 in his rookie season through this week, the right-hander for Detroit has thrown 27,000 pitches, which is more regular season pitches that anyone else in baseball.
Behind Verlander in that category are players like CC Sabathia, Matt Cain and Dan Haren, with each of them throwing 25,000 or more pitches during that same stretch.
All four pitchers this season are struggling, which is either a big coincidence or the number of pitches each has thrown is finally taking its toll on their arms.
Heading into his Saturday start, the Detroit ace had a 3.90 ERA. His ERA has not be that high for an entire season since his third season in 2008.
Cain has had a 3.14 ERA or lower in each of the past four seasons, but this season it is 4.54. Sabathia has had a 3.38 ERA or lower for his last seven straight seasons and this season it is at 4.09.
Haren has made a minimum of 30 starts in eight straight seasons but is currently on the DL with a shoulder problem and has a 6.15 ERA.
Cleveland, like Detroit has its problems with relievers and they have just signed their latest bullpen pitcher Joe Martinez.
Indians manager Terry Francona said Martinez would give his team protection. Martinez had 15 starts for the Indians’ Triple A Columbus, but will be used by Cleveland out of the bullpen.
Francona is not sure how long the Indians will keep Martinez, but said he will help them in the bullpen, as they are short handed.
Martinez was 2-6 on the season with an ERA of 6.23 at Columbus. He has played in the majors with the Diamondbacks, Pirates and Giants and has a career record of 3-3 with an ERA of 6.22.
As the season heads toward the All Star break, teams have played half of their 162-game schedule. The Tigers and Indians both have powerful offense but both are struggling with their bullpens and closers.
The Tigers also must be concerned with Verlander’s arm strength heading into the second half of the season. He did not get a decision in his start Saturday after allowing an eighth inning home run. The game went into extra innings and Tampa Bay eventually won.