What's wrong with Justin Verlander? 

July, 10, 2013

Chicago White Sox outfielder Alex Rios did something noteworthy Tuesday night, tallying six hits in as many at-bats, while adding a pair of stolen bases and an RBI. The oft-overlooked Rios is rightly owned in all leagues, and good for him; he's proving that the every-other-season theory is just ridiculous. Rios is again thriving in 2013, overcoming an annoying but hardly predictive trend of high performance only in even-numbered years. Rios is the No. 33 player on the ESPN Player Rater (23rd among hitters) and while his power is a bit down, he’s on pace for a career high in stolen bases and his batting average is fine. In fact, Rios generally doesn’t warrant much discussion because he’s just a solid player, and of course this blog entry really isn’t about him at all. Instead, it's about the underachieving starting pitcher he touched up for four of those hits.

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Justin Verlander
Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Justin Verlander has been decent this year but hasn't been at an elite level.

Yes, Detroit Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander had never permitted four hits to any one player in the same game before Tuesday, and while he had seemed to turn his disappointing season around lately, it’s yet another warning flag that we’re not likely to get a top-10 starting pitcher either for the season or from this point forward in 2013. What’s wrong with Verlander? Well, it’s not as if Hernan Perez was the guy pounding him Tuesday, but still, Verlander was the first pitcher off the draft board in most leagues, late first-round or early in the second, and entering play on July 10 he’s the No. 42 starting pitcher on the Player Rater, worse than San Diego Padres lefty Eric Stults, who won again Tuesday, incidentally, and Pittsburgh Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano, who has made only 11 starts. This is the fourth time in 2013 that Verlander has allowed five or more earned runs in a start, one shy of his total from 2011 and '12 combined. He struck out a mere three White Sox and his fastball velocity was 91.3 mph. In his previous start that average velocity was 93.9 mph.