Friday, September 02, 2011

Verlander, Jackson lead Tigers Over White Sox

In the first game of a big series versus the second place White Sox, The Tigers crushed their central division rival 8-1 tonight.  The Tigers now lead the White Sox by 6 1/2 games.  The Indians are currently 6 games back pending the result of their game versus the pesky Royals tonight. 

Tigers ace Justin Verlander pitched 7 1/3 innings allowing just one run on seven hits and a walk to lower his season ERA to 2.34.  He also upped his record to 21-5. I don't usually pay a lot of attention to pitcher wins because I consider wins to be a team statistic, but it's unusual for a pitcher to have 21 wins so quickly.  If he is going to be the rare pitcher to win an MVP award, he'll probably need an extraordinary number of wins.  The last starting pitcher to win the award was Roger Clemens in 1986 when he 24-4 for the Red Sox.  Verlander will likely get five more starts. 

How consistent has Verlander been this year?  He has 26 quality starts (6+ IP, 3 or fewer ER) in 30 games.  His 86.7 quality start percentage (QS%) is the second best of any starter with 30 or more starts since 1991.  The best QS% was by Felix Hernandez with 30 out of 34 (88.2 QS%) in 2010.  Jered Weaver is second in the majors this year with an impressive 24/28 (85.7%).

Austin Jackson on Fire

Austin Jackson had three more hits today including his ninth home run.  He has now gone 12 for 24 with five extra base hits on the home stand.  Scouts have hinted that AJax could eventually hit 15-20 homers in a season.  With four bombs in the last 15 games, he might be starting to realize that potential. 

Another good sign is that Jackson is not striking out quite as much lately.  After whiffing in 31% of his at bats through July, he has struck out in 21% of his at bats since then.  These are all small sample sizes here, but it's something to watch in future games.     

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