Justin Verlander exited his latest start Monday night with soreness in his right shoulder. He lasted just a single inning, yielding five runs (four earned) on four hits and two walks. He completed the inning, but left the game after putting down a sacrifice bunt and was replaced by Justin Miller, who made his first appearance since May 13th.
Eno Sarris over at FanGraphs put together a rather lengthy study less than a month ago, highlighting some interesting trends suggesting that Verlander has been ailing for awhile:
So the injury zone finder is giving us results that suggest that Justin Verlander might be more injured than just hurt. In terms of in-season injury prediction, the markers are there. But these markers are usually used when we don’t have any comments on injury. In this case, we have Miguel Cabrera telling us that Verlander has some aches and pains.
Justin Verlander seems to be hurting. We might not know for sure if he’s injured until the news comes down the pipe.
Well, the news is in, and Verlander will undergo an MRI on Tuesday to assess the extent of his injury. There's a possibility that it is just inflammation, but it is likely that he will miss at least one start.
The injury comes as unwelcome news to the Tigers, who fell to second place in the American League Central following their 11-6 loss to the Pirates. More than that, their bullpen, which received an influx of fresh arms following their nineteen-inning marathon loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday, was forced into service in the second inning, pitching seven more innings after throwing ten innings the day before.
The injury also comes just a day after the Tigers placed Anibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria on the disabled list, both of whom are expected to miss at least three weeks.
Verlander has been in the midst of one of the worst professional seasons of his career. His 4.57 ERA is the highest since 2008, and his K/9 of 6.57 bests only the 6.00 rate he put up as a rookie in 2006.
Verlander's body language in the above video speaks volumes to the amount of frustration he himself is feeling after exiting the game, and by extension the collective frustrations of the Detroit Tigers and its fan base has reached peak capacity, as they have watched a seven-game lead turn into a half-game deficit in just nineteen days.
The crew over at Bless You Boys, SB Nation's Detroit Tigers blog, seem to be handling the latest turn with numb frankness:
The loss tonight, coupled with a win by the Royals, puts the Tigers in second place by a half-game for the first time since June 17 when the Tigers trailed by the same distance. After the game the Tigers clubhouse remained closed as changes to the roster were made. Buck Farmer will start for the Tigers on Wedneday, Max Scherzer pitches on Thursday, Rick Porcello on Friday and David Price starts on Saturday.
Detroit has three more against the Pirates, followed by a three-game set against the Mariners. Robbie Ray is the scheduled starter for Tuesday's game, and Buck Farmer, who has pitched twelve innings above A-ball, will start on Wednesday.