Verlander threw his change 85 more times in 2019 and we could see this increase further this season as he searches for ways to supplant his four-seamer. It has nice 16.3 inches of break and induced a healthy 33.8 Whiff%. He didn’t allow one walk on the pitch.
When you watch Verlander throw his curve you genuinely believe nobody is ever going to hit it. But is only commands a 9.6 SwStr% which is disappointing. He again added vertical movement and maybe it’s best characteristic is it produces a 54.5 GB%.
Verlander’s four-seamer simply wasn’t what we expect from him in 2019. He gave up 24 HRs on the pitch, 6 more than last season and threw it 12.3% less than 2018. It lost a little heat and saw a 2% jump in walk rate. Is this a blip, or dare we say it. a worrying sign of decline.
Despite a few struggles with the four-seamer, his slider was pure gold and so he lent on it a bit more. Its 31.4 pVal meant it trailed only Cole’s fastball as the best pitch in baseball in 2019 as hitters could only muster a .119 BA against it. An increase in K% (to 41.1) led to a tasty 24% SwStr! Show me the Money!!
Thrown over 60% of the time, Verlander’s fastball was one of baseball’s best. The pitch was deadly in two-strike counts and had an incredible pVal of 31.0. In 2019, you can expect Verlander’s four-seamer to remain the gold standard for heaters.
Verlander’s secondary pitch, his slider, is a solid offering with elite movement. It was one of the best strikeout pitches in baseball with a stellar 40% K rate, and batters couldn’t even hit above the Mendoza Line against it. Although it’s not quite what it used to be, Verlander’s slider remains one of the best secondary pitches in the league.
Although it’s only thrown the third-most out of his pitches, Verlander’s curve might be his best. He gained a few inches of vertical movement on it in 2018, and that showed, as hitters slashed a humiliating .137/.157/.194 (and sported a 0.02 BB/K) when facing the pitch.
It’s no surprise that Verlander has nearly eliminated his changeup from his arsenal over the past few years, as it is by far his worst pitch. Since it’s the only offering he throws for a negative pVal, expect Verlander to throw his changeup less this coming year as relies more on his elite pitches