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Verlander gets stronger as games go longer

5/29/2012

(The Boston Red Sox host the Detroit Tigers, Tuesday at 7 ET on ESPN.)

The Red Sox are 24-24, but 0–6 this season when they have had a chance to get above .500.

And if the Red Sox are going to move over .500 this time tonight, then they will have to beat the Tigers' ace, Justin Verlander.

On Aug. 17, 2010, Verlander lasted five innings in a loss to the New York Yankees. Since then, Verlander has pitched at least six innings in each of his next 52 starts. That’s the fifth-longest such streak in the Live Ball era (since 1920). If he goes six innings on Tuesday, then Verlander will match Bob Gibson for the fourth-longest streak (see chart).

Most Consecutive Games Live Ball Era
At Least 6 Innings Pitched

One reason Verlander has consistenly been able to pitch deep into games is because he has a remarkable ability to get stronger and throw harder as the game moves into the late innings. This season, Verlander’s fastball in the first three innings has averaged 92.8 mph, and it goes up to 93.8 in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. In the final three innings, Verlander’s average fastball is 95.7 mph.

Verlander has a career ERA of 2.78 against the Red Sox, and has held Boston to a .205 batting average in eight starts.

Dustin Pedroia, who may not play because of a jammed thumb, is 0-for-13 in his career against Verlander. That matches the most at-bats without a hit for any batter against Verlander. (Juan Rivera is the other.)

The only player on the Red Sox roster who is hitting above .300 against Verlander is Marlon Byrd, who is 5-for-11, although all five hits have been singles.

Opposing Verlander is Daniel Bard, who has pitched 48 innings this season and has walked more batters (29) than he has struck out (28). And, in his five starts in the month of May, Bard has actually walked twice as many batters as he's struck out (19 walks, nine strikeouts).