Not only is Justin Verlander in The Best Shape Of His Life after adding “20 pounds of muscle” this offseason, the former MVP is apparently throwing a lot better than he did during a disappointing 2014 season.
Verlander threw a live batting practice session Sunday, after which manager Brad Ausmus told Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press:
That’s the best I’ve seen Ver stuff-wise, off the mound, since I’ve gotten this job. It was exactly what he wanted. He looked very good today.
It’s worth noting that “since I’ve gotten this job” is a span of exactly one season, so Ausmus isn’t talking about Verlander’s award-winning peak. And not only was Verlander’s performance bad last season–including his worst ERA since 2008, his worst strikeout rate since 2006, and the most earned runs allowed in the league–his once-great fastball velocity dipped to an average of 92.3 miles per hour.
Verlander has an awful lot of wear and tear on his arm at age 32, throwing the second-most innings and the most pitches of any pitcher during the past six seasons. Detroit owes him $28 million per season through 2019.