Detroit Tigers pheonom reigning Rookie of the Year Justin Verlander pitched more innings in 2006 than he had practically his entire life up until that point. Well north of 200 total innings. It was such a jump that a lot of experts believed Verlander would suffer a sophomore slump in 2007. Not his fault, but when you throw that many innings when you are that young, it is only natural for it to catch up to you. Happened to many of the Chicago White Sox pitchers in 2006 after their World Series run in 2005 and they had more experience and many more innings on their arm then Verlander.
Verlander struggled at the start of Spring Training. The experts seemed like they may be right. Then the regular season started. Concerned? Not anymore.
Verlander may not have had his best stuff his first two starts, but, like a veteran, he battled, and he didn't give up an earned run in either of those starts. Sure, he may have walked a few batters, but he got outs when he needed them and for the most part looked like he did in 2006, if not better.
Monday night against Kansas City, Verlander was definitely better. He gave up his first three runs of the season but he also struck out six, walked none, and had his fastball moving. He mixed his pitches well, and was a force on the mound. I think we can put talk of a sophomore slump to bed, at least for now.
And the Tigers hit their third grand slam of the season, quite an accomplishment considering their bats have been quiet for the most part. And Jose Mesa continued to struggle giving up 2 runs, 2 hits (including a home run), and a walk while only retiring one batter. I think it's too early to pull the plug on Mesa, but that's a situation worth watching going forward.
Updated 4/17: The Detroit Tigers online community lost one of their own this week in the senseless tragedy at Virginia Tech. Brian Bluhm, a longtime Tigers fan, and frequent contributer to the MotownSports.com Tigers message board, and most other Detroit Tigers online forums, was one of the victims in Monday's attacks. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends, as they do to all of the victims. The Detroit Tigers are planning a moment of silence at Tuesday's game, and more tributes may be coming as well. Many in the Tigers on-line community who knew Brian have posted their thoughts. You can read them here (thanks to Ian over at Bless You Boys for the list of tributes):
● The Detroit Tigers Weblog
● Mack Avenue Tigers
● Tiger Tales
● Bless You Boys
● Two posts at Minor League Ball
● Motown Sports