What’s wrong with Justin Verlander?

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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.

Brewers, Jimmy Nelson avoid arbitration with one-year, $3.7 million contract

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Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Brewers and starter Jimmy Nelson have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $3.7 million contract. The deal includes a $50,000 bonus if he wins Comeback Player of the Year Award, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman.

Nelson, 29, was entering his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. The right-hander missed the entire 2018 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in September 2017. He had a solid 2017 season, finishing with a 3.49 ERA and a 199/48 K/BB ratio in 1751/3 innings of work. The Brewers are hoping he can return to form this coming season.

Assuming he’s healthy and productive, he will rejoin a rotation that now includes Jhoulys Chacin, Chase Anderson, Zach Davis, and an as yet undecided No. 5 starter.