Justin Verlander got off to a great start this season, posting a 2.48 ERA in April, but he’s looked unlike his usual dominant self since the calendar flipped to May and that continued this afternoon with a rough outing against the Blue Jays.
Verlander allowed six runs in seven innings versus Toronto, serving up two homers, and has now allowed 33 runs in 46 innings since May 1 for a 5.67 ERA over seven starts. Even the best players struggle at times and certainly seven poor starts is hardly the end of the world for Verlander, but his 30/20 K/BB ratio during that time is uncharacteristic as well and his average fastball velocity is down to a career-low 92.2 miles per hour.
In fact, Verlander’s average fastball has declined from 95.0 to 94.3 to 93.3 to 92.2 since 2011. So he’s throwing slower than ever, he’s struggling for the past 5-6 weeks, and his strikeout rate of 6.4 per nine innings is his lowest since he was a 23-year-old rookie in 2006. Maybe it’ll all prove to be a minor speed bump for the former MVP and Cy Young winner–he was actually throwing a little harder today, for instance–but at age 31 and in the second season of a seven-year, $180 million contract extension it’s definitely cause for concern.
He’s scheduled to face rookie slugger Jose Abreu and the White Sox’s third-ranked offense next week, in Chicago.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.