One of the primary complaints about Justin Verlander’s 2006 season was, for a guy who touches 100 mph on the gun so much, he doesn’t strike out as many guys as you might think. That perception is starting to change because in the month of June, Verlander has come into his own. He got national recognition for his no-hitter but in that game he also struck out a career best 12 batters. His previous career best was eight on July 26, 2006 in a start against the Indians. Then he struck out eleven on Saturday (in only seven innings). So he went from never touching double figures to doing it twice within two weeks.
The end result is 85 strikeouts over just 97 innings with 35 of those coming in June alone. And he’ll be able to add to that total because he has one more start this week. So far this June though, Verlander has been simply phenomonal. He’s 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA and a .160 batting average against and 35 strikeouts in 29 innings. It’s the only month of his career where’s had more strikeouts then innings pitched (assuming he finishes that way, which he should). Unless he totally bombs in his final start of June, you’re looking at the pitcher of the month.
And one interesting thing I found on his splits page is how good Verlander has been in his starts where he doesn’t get a decision. Despite the Tigers being 2-2 in those four starts, Verlander did all he could to keep the Tigers in the game with only a 1.73 ERA and a unbelievable .135 batting average against. And Verlander is death to the hitter when he goes up 0-2 in the count. From that point on, hitters have just a .071 slugging percentage (two singles, no walks one hbp in 29 plate appearances).
And it’s definitely been a fun month to watch Verlander as well. Especially Saturday when he was highlighted on the FOX game of the week.