The term “ace” is thrown around way too much these days. Of course this is my opinion but I don’t think an ace is a team’s number one pitcher. While guys Luke Hochevar and Wandy Rodriguez are probably their team’s best pitchers and are good in their own right, I don’t consider them aces. Aces are the best of the best, the guys you want on the mound and they’re the reason your team rarely, if ever, has an extended losing streak because they put a stop to the losing. Prior to the last few years, the last guy I consider an ace for the Tigers was Jack Morris. He was a guy you wanted on the mound when you needed that win.
Good news Tiger fans, because while it’s been a while, the Tigers have their ace in Justin Verlander. Yes, 2008 was rough but since then he’s been one of the most consistent pitchers in the major leagues. This year he’s been nothing short of awesome. He leads the league in wins, winning percentage, innings pitched, strikeouts and WHIP. He’s third in ERA, this overall in WAR and first in WAR for pitchers. His walk rate is the best it’s ever been and his batting average against is .184. His OPS against is .536. That’s a lot of numbers that point to Justin Verlander being one of the best pitchers in the league.
Of course he did it again yesterday. The Tigers were humiliated by the Mets in the first two games of their series and Justin Verlander pitched seven innings and gave up just one run avoid the sweep. In June, he gave up five runs in six starts for a 0.92 ERA. The Tigers were 16-12 in June and six of those were Verlander wins.
Next up for the Tigers are the Giants so it’s first place versus first place. Tonight it’ll be Brad Penny against Madison Bumgarner. Don’t let Bumgarner’s 4-9 record fool you, this guy is for real. It looks like we’re going to miss Lincecum.