Justin Verlander dominates despite the worrying trend

Justin Verlander has been spectacular in 2022 but the advanced stats suggest there is at least one thing to be concerned about.

Good luck telling Justin Verlander’s opponents that despite his post-Tommy John success, he’s not the same pitcher he once was.

Yes, Verlander has been spectacular in his return this season from a 624-day gap between major league starts, which has been dazzling for anyone, let alone a 39-year-old with 3,000 innings behind him.

After Tuesday’s obliteration of the Minnesota Twins, in which Verlander threw 8 shutout innings and gave up a lone hit and two walks, he’s rocking a 4-1 record, 1.55 ERA and a tiny .64 WHIP.

He was also the best of what has been a very good Astros rotation so far in 2022. How good? In addition to the numbers above, Verlander averaged 89 pitches per start, fired 70.5 percent strikes on 533 pitches, and averaged 4.37 pitches per out while hitting 20 outs per start.

Justin Verlander’s hot start: What’s not to like about Astros?

This is a different Verlander than we’ve seen over the years and some of the advanced numbers tell us what’s different.

Verlander’s fastball, which he throws 50 percent of the time, touched 96 Tuesday and averaged for the season a 94.5, which ranks in the 69th percentile for MLB in 2022. In other words, it’s still above average, at least in terms of speed.

The change is in spin (2395), which is down 7 percent from 2019 (2577) and 8.5 percent from 2018 (2644).

Given the reduction in spin, Verlander doesn’t hit the bows at the same speed. In 2018, Verlander had 12.2 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched, and in 2019 he was nearly level with 12.1. After Tommy John with the lower spin rate, that number has dropped to 8.0 strikeouts per 9 innings.

The other numbers that stand out are Verlander’s BABIP, which is unsustainably low at 0.192, and xERA, which is more than a full run above its current ERA.

Even in his 2011 Cy Young and MVP season, his BABIP was 0.236 and for his career it’s 0.280, showing that 0.192 is unsustainable in the long term.

The xERA, which includes many factors including deletions, is 2.85, which would be very good just not in the stratosphere where it currently resides.

Justin Verlander’s dominant start is unsustainable

It will be fascinating to follow Verlander through this season. Can an arm with this mileage continue to amaze racquets with similar speed and less spin? Will the arm hold? Does he get stronger or weaker as starts, innings and pitches pile up?

The Astros are already trying to forestall the usage question by managing pitch counts and going at least partially to a six-man rotation to give Verlander an extra day.

He’ll still be very good, but fewer strikeouts over the course of a season means more chances for errors and for batted balls to hits and hits to runs.

Verlander is without a doubt a first choice Hall of Famer, but what we’re seeing right now isn’t sustainable and even the most ardent Astros fans will agree.

Regression will pay a visit. It’s not a question of if, but when.

https://fansided.com/2022/05/11/justin-verlander-worrying-trend-astros/ Justin Verlander dominates despite the worrying trend

John Verrall

John Verrall is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. John Verrall joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: johnverrall@24ssports.com.

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