Justin Verlander turned in another rough outing last night, allowing seven runs in 5.2 innings against the White Sox. And nearly all of the damage came in the sixth inning, following five innings of one-run ball to begin the game.
There’s no shame in serving up a homer to Jose Abreu, but Verlander also walked four batters and allowed eight hits while falling to 6-6 with a 4.61 ERA on the season. And that’s after posting a 2.48 ERA in April.
In his last six starts Verlander has allowed 35 runs in 37.2 innings, posting an ugly 7.41 ERA and .312 opponents’ batting average while managing a sub par 24/18 K/BB ratio. He’s yielded six homers in those six starts after allowing a grand total of 19 homers in 34 starts last year and an average of 18 homers per 34 starts for his entire career.
In other words he’s a mess right now, although last night at least Verlander averaged 95.8 miles per hour on his fastball, topping out at 99.0 mph, so velocity-wise there were no issues. His next start comes Monday against the Royals, who rank 12th among AL teams in runs and dead last in homers and slugging percentage. So if Verlander struggles again versus Kansas City … woof.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.