Justin Verlander: 2006 AL Rookie of the Year, 4-time All-Star, League Leader in Innings and Strikeouts, Cy Young Front-runner; this is–how do you say–a ‘good get’.
Touching up an elite starter of Verlander’s ilk would be an accomplishment for the dreary White Sox offense on its own, but combined with the fact that he had eviscerated the Sox in each of his last 7 starts, and his labored outing forced to Detroit to dip into its bullpen (though not for anyone essential) for three innings to start the weekend series made Friday night’s 8-2 triumph a particularly meaningful hurdle to clear. The Tigers aren’t a great pitching ballclub; especially removed of their best weapon.
The White Sox succeeded by avoiding Verlander’s signature fastball, and punishing his change-up and slider that he overused–especially in tandem, as they shared a similar velocity. The Sox certainly didn’t pound him (7 hits, 6 singles), and who could expect them to given that it was Verlander. Also, if Justin had ever gotten a feel and better location on his four-seamer it easily could have been the inverse of this story, which isn’t surprising given that it was Verlander. But dominance isn’t expected, and neither is adequacy, he’s just too good of a pitcher to nitpick any kind of success against him
Sox hitters seemed to know what they were waiting on, adjusted to the fact Verlander was wild and started working counts, which allowed them to cruise to a victory in a game that offered very little promise at the outset. One game doesn’t turn a corner or signal anything large (besides an injury), but it showed some ability–to extend at-bats, to drive in runs with two outs, for Dunn to lock in on anything–and a reminder that it’s still there was overdue.
In an interview with Scott Merkin, Peavy cited his 4-inning relief outing from three weeks ago as the culprit in dead arm phase of recent. In terms of eye rolls, this is along the lines of listening to someone put together the twist at the end of The Sixth Sense a half hour after the credits rolled. Where was this insight when Jake was asking to complete the game? Or when Ozzie neglected the opportunity to move Jackson ahead for Peavy’s schedule start? These are the typical questions that might arise.
Of course, this admission also led to Jake accepting having his next start pushed back two days. The White Sox have long since exhausted their quota of steps in the process of finding the right balance in managing Peavy’s recovery, but maybe at this point we need to accept Ozzie and Jake responding to obvious red flags with caution for what it is: progress.
Personally, I’d like to see Jake evaluated physically before just hoping his stuff is there again next Tuesday, but I’ll settle for him not coming in for relief until then.