Is it time to panic in Detroit? Maybe not about the whole team — the Royals are hot and the Tigers are not and those things go back and forth all year — but Justin Verlander is definitely giving Tigers fans cause for concern.
Verlander was tagged for seven runs in six innings by the Royals. He allowed only one hit over the first three innings, but as has become custom for the former MVP, things blew up in the middle innings. Here it was the fifth, where he have up four runs on six hits. And it could’ve been worse but for Billy Butler being thrown out at home to end the inning. Verlander gave up three more runs in the sixth. His earned run totals over his past seven starts: 7, 7, 5, 3, 6, 5, 5.
As of now, Verlander’s ERA — 4.98 — is 91st among 99 qualifiers in the majors this year. While, according to the eye-test anyway, Verlander looks normal, something is definitely not right, be it mechanical, physical or mental.
Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.
Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.
Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.
Ken Rosenthal has an interesting story up about Sergio Romo as he begins spring training with his new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There is some fun stuff about his family, all Dodgers fans from southern California, but the more notable stuff is about Romo himself, who has dealt with a lot more than has been reported over the past couple of seasons. The loss of three of his four grandparents is a big one, as it has thrust the mantle of head of the family on Romo in ways that he was not fully prepared for. There are also allusions to personal and psychological problems Romo has experienced — there is a vague suggestion of alcohol or maybe just late nights out and perhaps depression, but he is not specific about it — which he worked on with the help of friends and teammates on the Giants and which he now has overcome.
There’s always more going on the lives of baseball players than we as fans know.