The Detroit Tigers are among the best teams in baseball in spite of Justin Verlander. No one could have imagined that scenario for the Tigers or Verlander this season, but it is hard to deny right now. Further proof came on Aug. 27, as Verlander struggled to stop the Oakland Athletics and suffered a rain shortened 6-3 loss.
The struggling Athletics beat the Tigers for the second straight night in Detroit, as they got to Verlander with four runs in just five innings. Once Oakland stretched the lead to 6-3 in the sixth, the rain came down and didn’t let up for the rest of the night, forcing the game into an early ending.
Since the Tigers didn’t get a chance to let Verlander off the hook, the ace dropped to 12-10 for the year and 0-2 in his last four starts. Detroit has a rotation where one pitcher is 19-1 and another leads the AL with the league’s lowest ERA -- and those pitchers are Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez instead of Verlander. This either speaks to the Tigers’ power this season or a big concern for the postseason.
To get back to the World Series and win it this time, the Tigers may not be able to do without the Verlander of old. Yet that Verlander hasn’t really showed up this year, although he isn’t the only high profile ace and normally reliable starter to drop off in 2013.
Here is a list of the big stars and top pitchers who have had a big drop off this season. Yet without a change, Verlander’s slide may make the most impact of all in September and October.