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.
The Mets rode a bloop hit and a fortuitous slide by Yoenis Cespedes into a four-run fifth inning against the Cardinals during Thursday night’s game.
After Cespedes drew a one-out walk, James Loney hit a weak pop-up into shallow left field. Left fielder Brandon Moss and shortstop Greg Garcia both gave chase but it dropped in. Cespedes, running the bases aggressively, sprinted towards third base. Moss scooped up the ball and threw to Adam Wainwright covering third base.
Cespedes appeared to have been tagged out by Wainwright, but as luck would have it, Cespedes’ cleats stuck on Wainwright’s glove and yanked it off. Cespedes was ruled safe and the Cardinals challenged the call, but it was ultimately upheld.
After that play, Curtis Granderson struck out, Wilmer Flores reached on a fielding error by Garcia, and Alejandro De Aza hit a three-run home run to right field, pushing the Mets’ lead to 7-0.
You may recall that, back in May, Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor got into a fight with Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. Bautista slid late into second base, with which Odor took issue, so he punched Bautista in the face. That earned him a seven-game suspension.
With one out in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Indians, Odor reached on a fielding error by first baseman Mike Napoli. Jonathan Lucroy then hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. Odor slid hard into Jason Kipnis covering second base.
Kipnis, hearkening back to the Bautista fight, backed up as if he were afraid Odor would punch him. Odor got a good chuckle out of it, but it was the Rangers’ bench which perhaps enjoyed the joke most. The Rangers’ broadcast showing Adrian Beltre cracking up and telling his other teammates what had happened.