Tigers ace Justin Verlander has never been shy about sharing his feelings concerning players using performance-enhancing drugs. Last year, he spoke up in favor of more severe punishments for those caught using, even going as far as to suggest a permanent ban for first-time users. “It’s too easy for guys to serve a suspension and come back and still get paid,” he said.
Verlander is now suggesting something even more draconian: drug testing upon entering the clubhouse every day, as Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. “Test me every day,” Verlander said. “I’m passionate about it. This is a great game. I love the challenge of it. But you like to know it’s fair.”
Verlander continued, “If you come in every day knowing you’ll be peeing into a cup, that should deter people.”
I can think of at least one group that would fight against any such effort: the players’ union. And though Verlander would argue otherwise, PED use is not really a problem in the game anymore. Dee Gordon and Jenrry Mejia are really the only major league regulars to end up testing positive and Mejia is permanently banned, having tested positive three times. Almost every other player that has been caught in recent years is a minor leaguer or a fringe major leaguer, the type of players Verlander would dominate even if they were legally allowed to use steroids.
Verlander’s proposition is a solution in search of a problem. But as Craig points out, this is just par for the course:
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.