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Thursday, January 26, 2012
Over/under: Justin Verlander's wins

By David Schoenfield

Let's stick with the Tigers and move to 2011 Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander.

Can the Tigers' ace repeat his magical season, when he led the AL with 24 wins, 251 innings, a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts?

It's not that easy to win 20 games. The last pitcher to win 20 in back-to-back seasons was Roy Oswalt with the Astros in 2004 and 2005. Besides pitching deep into games, you need run support. For example, Verlander allowed three or four runs in 12 starts last season but lost only two of those games and had just three no-decisions.

Will he get the same run support in 2012? Will he pitch as well? If the Tigers run away with the division, will Jim Leyland push him quite as hard? I'll put the over/under at 20 wins, as it takes a lot of great pitching and a little luck to win 21 games, let alone 24.