Every jug has two primes: one physical and one mental. The problem is that they rarely fit together. Too often, the wisdom that results from a long career can not be transferred to the truly dynamic talent of youth. The more a pitcher learns, the less he has to use.
Justin Verlander turned 35 in spring training, and he's probably done enough to get a place in the Hall of Fame. But maybe that's the best he's ever done, because his arm is still alive enough to take advantage of his knowledge.
"I'm processing information at a much higher level than ever before in my career," Verlander Montag said after the Yankees were suffocated by a 5-1
"And it's not like analytical information, just processing information while I'm on the hill – seeing the bigger picture I go with my belly, see everything and perform positions on an extremely high level." It's not that Best stuff I've ever had in my career, but it's the best pitching I've ever had. "
The stuff, Verlander admitted, is" close enough "to look like his best season , with the Detroit Tigers in 2011, when he won the American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards. Catcher Brian McCann describes him as complimenting a point guard or a quarterback: he sees everything.
"It's his awareness of every situation," McCann said. "It just seems like he's three steps ahead of everyone else."
Verlander is 7-2 with a deserved average of 1.11 by 12 starts and opponents beat 0.153 against him. He throws much more sliders than before, fewer changes and about as many corner balls. But this famous mad fastball – staying through the top of the zone for weak pop-ups, harmless fly-balls and helpless, empty swings – is still elite.
"I would say he has the best four-seamer in the game," said teammate Charlie Morton. "He has a good idea of what you want to do, and if you watch from the side and you see that it's hard for the boys to get the ball in or play the ball, it's like the side squares just icing cake. "
The Astros exchanged views against Verlander in August of last year after each team lifted its release. The teams shot back on the remainder of Verlanders contract – $ 28 million for this and next year, with a $ 22 million vesting option for 2020 – but now it looks reasonable.
Since Verander joins Astros, he is 16-3 a 1.36 ERA, including the postseason, when he was MVP's A.L Championship Series against the Yankees. The Astros would not have won their first World Series title without him.
"He is basically the perfect pitcher" Manager A.J. Hinch said:
Verlander recorded 242 innings in 2017, by far the most in the majors (including postseason). Now he is one of only two AL pitchers since 1900 to make at least 10 starts before June and does not allow more than 10 earned runs and 50 hits, according to STATS Inc. Pedro Martinez in 2000 is the other.
Much of Verlander's work in 2017 came with the Tigers, the team that designed him in 2004 from Old Dominion. Just as Verlander fits the Astros and absorbs their advanced data and video analytics, they have not transformed it
. "It went pretty well in the two months before I was traded," said Verlander. "These guys got it at the right time."
Verlander has regained his place among the greats, but the only reason he ever left was an injury. In January 2014, he needed core muscle surrogation, pain, and three stages of relative mediocrity.
Finally healthy throughout the 2016 season, Verlander almost won the AL Cy Young Award and lost to Boston's Rick Porcello in spite of most votes in first place. Now it seems the only pitchers that could deny him are his team-mates Morton and Gerrit Cole, who place him second and third among the AL leaders in ERA
"I hope he does," she said Houston left. Dallas Keuchel, winner of AL Cy Young in 2015. "He deserves it, he earned it two years ago, but there are also two or three other people here who could argue."
Verlander has saved his best for the Yankees. In his last four starts against them, including last fall, he has allowed two earned runs in 30⅔ innings. When the fans booed him on Monday when he left the field in the seventh inning, Verlander tilted his cap.
"The Yankees fans had fun with me, so I have to have some fun," he said. "You can not take yourself too seriously, I'm pretty serious and pretty concentrated before the games, but here at Yankee Stadium, that's an expression of tenderness."