Justin Verlander has a 4.00 ERA and $167 million coming his way

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Even though the Tigers still had Justin Verlander signed for two more years, they signed their right-hander to a huge contract this spring that essentially made him the highest-paid pitcher ever. He’ll receive $28 million per year every year from 2015-2019.

That’s kind of a scary thought right now, isn’t it? Verlander gave up seven more runs Thursday in a loss to the White Sox. He fell to 10-8 with a 3.99 ERA for the season. Six times this year he’s allowed at least five earned runs in an outing. Only Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey and Jeremy Guthrie, with seven such outings, have done so more frequently.

That’s certainly not to say Verlander has been all bad. He has eight outings in which he’s allowed one or no earned runs, including two this month. His ERA ranks just 24th in the AL, but he is sixth in strikeouts and seventh in innings pitched. He’s hardly been a liability.

What is worrying is that Verlander’s average fastball has tumbled to 92.7 mph this year, according to Fangraphs’ Baseball Info Solutions data. He came in at 94.3 mph in 2012, and he was in the 95-96 mph range each of the three years before that.

Verlander isn’t falling apart, but it seems pretty likely that his peak has already come and gone. Before his Cy Young season in 2011, his career best ERA in six seasons was 3.37 and WHIP was 1.16. The mid-3.00 ERAs seem like the better bet for the future than the mid-2.00s of 2011 and ’12. And that’s probably the optimistic scenario for the Tigers, considering that he was baseball’s hardest working pitcher from 2009-2102.

The Tigers still had Verlander under control for two more years when they extended him this spring. Technically, it was announced as a brand new seven-year, $180 million contract, but in reality, it was a five-year, $140 million extension for 2015-19. At that rate, the deal had very little upside. Verlander needs to remain one of baseball’s best pitchers to justify that kind of salary, and that’s an awful lot to ask. There aren’t many pitchers in history who can claim to have had an eight- or 10-year run as one of baseball’s best.

If not for the extension, the Tigers would currently owe Verlander $27 million through the end of 2014. That sounds a whole lot better to me than $167 million through 2019.

Angels name Brad Ausmus new manager

Brad Ausmus
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Former MLB player and manager Brad Ausmus will manage the Angels in 2019, the team announced Sunday. While no contract terms have been revealed, a formal press conference will be held on Monday at 1:00 PM PDT to introduce the new skipper.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler gave a statement following Ausmus’ hiring:

Ausmus, 49, was also considered for a managerial role with the Reds prior to their hiring of David Bell on Sunday. He’ll replace longtime manager Mike Scioscia, who finished his 19th and final campaign with the club on the last day of the 2018 season.

A former catcher and three-time Gold Glove Award winner, Ausmus capped his 18-year MLB playing career in 2010. He managed the Tigers from 2014 to 2017, during which he guided the club to a 314-332 record and a postseason berth in 2014. After the Tigers declined to offer the skipper an extension in 2018, he was hired as a special assistant to the Angels’ general manager, and remained in that role for the duration of the regular season.