|ESPN.com: Baseball||[Print without images]|
Justin Verlander said Monday in an interview with ESPN Radio that he believes he has identified a problem with his mechanics that he hopes will help him return to his dominating self.
Verlander, 30, has been solid this season, with an 8-5 record, 3.77 ERA and 114 strikeouts for the Detroit Tigers, but he set a lofty standard for himself the previous two seasons when he posted sub-3.00 ERAs and led the American League in strikeouts each year.
"It's been a battle for me personally this year, mechanics-wise, to be able to repeat my delivery like I have in the past, but everything's healthy and I think I found something in my last bullpen session before my last start," Verlander said in the interview with "Mike and Mike."
Verlander said that by comparing video from starts in past seasons to this season he was able to identify a problem with his shoulder angle in his delivery.
"I think that led to me being too inconsistent trying to deliver the ball, especially with my fastball command, and that's kind of the root of all my problems this year," he said.
Verlander got a no-decision in his last start Saturday against the Rays but pitched eight innings, allowing three runs (two earned) with four strikeouts and four walks. It was the first start of at least eight innings this season for Verlander, who has led the American League in innings pitched each of the past two seasons.
He said that despite his struggles with his mechanics, he's "been able to work around it, been able to pitch way better than I probably would have if we rewind maybe five years ago" because he's "matured as a pitcher and I've been able to work through this thing."
"But I know things aren't right, so it's always a constant battle trying to find it, and when I do I'll be right back where I need to be," he said.
Verlander has posted more than 200 strikeouts each of the past four seasons, including 239 last season and 250 in 2011, when he won the AL MVP and Cy Young awards with a 24-5 record and 2.40 ERA.
He said he's "fine with being a prisoner of my own success."
"Nobody can put more pressure on me than I do. I expect to be great every time I go out there, and if I'm not, I'm going to fix it and I'm going to find out what's wrong."
The defending American League-champion Tigers, who have lost two straight games, are tied with the Cleveland Indians for the lead in the AL Central.