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Verlander's struggles continue

6/19/2014

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Justin Verlander has allowed at least five earned runs in six of his past seven starts.

Justin Verlander has seen much better days in his career. The Detroit Tigers hurler gave up seven earned runs on 12 hits to the Royals on Monday, which tied or set season worsts.

Season-long struggles for Verlander

Justin Verlander Pct of Starts
Allowing 5+ ER - Past 4 Seasons

Monday’s outing is representative of Verlander’s struggles all season. For the first time in his career, he has allowed seven or more earned runs in consecutive starts. He’s now allowed at least five earned runs in six of his past seven starts, posting a 7.83 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP in that span.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Verlander joins Gaylord Perry as the only former Cy Young winners to allow at least five earned runs in six starts in a seven-start span (Perry did it in seven straight in 1975).

Verlander has allowed at least five earned runs in six of his 15 starts this season. Last season, he allowed five or more earned runs six times over 34 starts. Since winning the American League Cy Young and MVP in 2011, Verlander has allowed five earned runs in a higher percentage of his starts each season.

Verlander’s nemesis and declining fastball

One of the biggest plays in the game came when Billy Butler hit a three-run double off of Verlander in the fifth inning to put the Royals up for good. Butler has dominated Verlander historically, as his 33 hits, .434 career batting average and 14 RBIs against Verlander are the best of any player (minimum 30 plate appearances).

The pitch Butler doubled off Verlander was a low-and-inside fastball. In nine at-bats against Verlander this season, Butler has three hits, all of which came off fastballs.

Verlander has not been able to overpower opposing batters with his fastball the way he used to, as he’s allowed a .307 batting average with his fastball this season, all the way up from .215 in his Cy Young campaign in 2011.

Over the past six seasons, Verlander has lost a lot of life off his fastball. In 2009, Verlander’s average fastball velocity was 95.6 mph, second-best in the majors and best in the American League. This season, he’s down to 92.6 mph, which is outside of the top 25 qualified pitchers in MLB.