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 Verlander to start Opening Day 2008

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PostSubject: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:07 am

02/29/2008 6:22 PM ET
Verlander to start Opening Day
Right-hander adds to accolades already accumulated
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Justin Verlander has always tried to soak in the Opening Day atmosphere around Comerica Park. He'll be a little too busy for that this year.

While the crowd will be trying to stay warm at Comerica Park on March 31, Verlander will be warming up.

"Maybe I'll get out there a couple minutes early," he said of his Opening Day assignment.

What was already a likelihood was confirmed on Friday, that Verlander will start the season opener against the Royals in a little over four weeks. And Verlander has another honor to add to the World Series appearance, All-Star Game selection and Rookie of the Year award he has compiled over his first two years.

"I think it's something that I'll look back on more at the end of my career," Verlander said.

It's the honor of it that was the emphasis. Other than that, manager Jim Leyland wasn't much for discussing it.

"I guess you can take a look at it as an honor, if you want to," Leyland said. "And I'm sure it is. And I'm not downplaying it. But Opening Day is one day, and then we play 161 more games. I don't think this is some major surprise."

Part of that is the balance of Detroit's rotation, which added a 20-game winner in Dontrelle Willis over the offseason, to go with the core group of Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson who all started in the World Series two years ago. Even so, it would've been hard to dispute the notion that Verlander had earned this.

Leyland said when he came to Spring Training more than two weeks ago that Verlander would probably be his starter for the opener. On a pitching staff that featured just two members with double-digit wins last year, Verlander's 18 victories far and away topped the club and stood two off the league lead. His .750 winning percentage was the American League's best among pitchers with enough innings to qualify.

While the Tigers were trying to pull out a playoff run down the stretch, Verlander was one of the baseball's most effective starters, going 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA over his final seven starts to top 200 innings in his second full season.

In the process, he not only answered the question of whether he would run out of gas again down the stretch, but also dispelled any lingering doubt that his 17-win rookie campaign was for real. Now, barely a week after his 25th birthday, his 35 wins are the most of any pitcher in baseball over the last two years, except for Josh Beckett and Chien-Ming Wang.

Yet, like last year, he still feels like he has something to prove. But unlike last year, he doesn't feel the same nerves surrounding it. At this point, he can relax, at least a little bit.

"I think there's always something to prove," he said. "I think I'm handling it better, though. I'm never going to be content, no matter what happens. That's just my personality."

With a full offseason to rest and then gear up his arm, Verlander made his first appearance of the spring on Friday against the Blue Jays and retired six of the seven batters he faced. The only hit came from ex-Tiger Matt Stairs, an infield hopper which Edgar Renteria couldn't fire to first in time for the out. Nineteen of Verlander's 26 pitches went for strikes, and several popped the mitt.

"I was out there just trying to take it easy, not go 100 percent," Verlander said. "I was trying to stay relaxed and have a nice, easy motion, not do too much to it, and [the ball] was going out good. I was pleased."

As for the weather he could encounter in Detroit on the final day of March, 10 days after the supposed end of winter, he's prepared for that.

"I pitched games at [Old Dominion], where I remember pitching in snow," he said. "We had a little laundry room [in the clubhouse], and before I'd go out, I'd put a towel in the dryer and turn it on. I'd sit in there for two outs and have someone come get me. It would warm up the whole room. It would be, like, 18 degrees outside and it would be 85 in the laundry room."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sat Mar 01, 2008 8:28 am

Let's hope he has his good stuff ready to go. Motown is always freezing for the home opener.
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:48 am

Very true. The last two games they played in FL it was in the 50s. (Blue Jays games)


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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:01 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:

His .750 winning percentage was the American League's best among pitchers with enough innings to qualify.

This is very nitpicky, but this statement is misleading. While it is in fact true, it shouldn't be written like that. The winning percentage title is NOT based on innings pitched, but rather decisions. To qualify, a pitcher needs the number of team games divided by 12 rounded to the nearest integer decisions. In other words, for 162 games you need 14 decisions.

Verlander had 14 obviously and he still lead the league in winning%.

Oh yeah, I'm stoked about him being the starter Big Smile


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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:09 pm

GO J. Verlander
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:12 pm

catbox_9 wrote:
GoGetEmTigers wrote:

His .750 winning percentage was the American League's best among pitchers with enough innings to qualify.

This is very nitpicky, but this statement is misleading. While it is in fact true, it shouldn't be written like that. The winning percentage title is NOT based on innings pitched, but rather decisions. To qualify, a pitcher needs the number of team games divided by 12 rounded to the nearest integer decisions. In other words, for 162 games you need 14 decisions.

Verlander had 14 obviously and he still lead the league in winning%.

Oh yeah, I'm stoked about him being the starter Big Smile

Leave it to Jason Beck to say that!

Verlander deserves to be Opening day starter! PARTY!


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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:14 pm

He sure does! GO VERLANDER
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:16 pm

Then again, it probably should go to the guy with 162+ IP.

Last year Verlander almost didn't win the title because some loser reliever for NY was like 6-1 almost all year. He eventually lost another game or 2 and ended up 1 decision shy, but I would have been ever-so-angry if Verlander didn't get the title! It's worth THREE black ink points.

(Black ink points are a stat on baseball-reference.com. Explanation ). The average HOFer has 40. Verlander has 3. He also has 26 gray ink points which are the same as black ink only you need to be in the top 10 instead of lead the league. 185 is the average for a HOFer.


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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sat Mar 01, 2008 4:00 pm

YAY!!! I only went to 3 games last year and J. Verlander pitched 2 of 'em and I just had a feeling we would win each time and we did!!! tiger
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sat Mar 01, 2008 5:10 pm

iluvpudge7 wrote:
YAY!!! I only went to 3 games last year and J. Verlander pitched 2 of 'em and I just had a feeling we would win each time and we did!!! tiger

I only got to see him once Crying or Very sad

He outdueled Dan Haren though! 10 K's and just 1 ER Thud


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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:53 pm

iluvpudge7 wrote:
YAY!!! I only went to 3 games last year and J. Verlander pitched 2 of 'em and I just had a feeling we would win each time and we did!!! tiger

I have a habit of going to Bonderman games. I will make a Verlander game this year hopefully when he is going for his 20th win!

Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:49 am

Bonderman Rules! He gonna win 16-18 games this year with a 3,30 ERA!
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sun Mar 02, 2008 12:36 pm

Just keep wearin' them high socks, Boys!
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:01 pm

GO TIGERS!
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:06 pm

and GO TIGERS!!
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:07 pm

OH YEAH!
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:08 pm

Tigerfan1984 wrote:
iluvpudge7 wrote:
YAY!!! I only went to 3 games last year and J. Verlander pitched 2 of 'em and I just had a feeling we would win each time and we did!!! tiger

I have a habit of going to Bonderman games. I will make a Verlander game this year hopefully when he is going for his 20th win!

Wink

I bet you won't have to wait long!
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:35 pm

i am so glad the he got it. he deserves it.

all off season i kept thinking that they would give it to the 4-5 spot guy- bondo.

austin
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PostSubject: Re: Verlander to start Opening Day 2008   Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:38 pm

He sure does!
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