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Justin Verlander has pitched well this year, but he hasn't been the ace we've been accustomed to seeing. In the regular season, Verlander was 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA and 217 strikeouts.
Verlander has had a drop in velocity this year, as shown in the table below compiled with data from Brooks Baseball:
||Velocity in 2012
||Velocity in 2013
Out of all of his pitches, only the slider saw an increase in velocity. His fastball lost more than a mile per hour, and his changeup lost more than 1.5 mph.
He's only struck out 74 batters with his fastball, while getting 70 with his curveball. Add in the fact that hitters are batting .283 off of his fastball, compared to .246 last year.
The fastball hasn't been working, but Verlander has been able to do a lot with his curve, striking out 70 batters and allowing opponents to hit .189 against it.
Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez have both been good this year, but the Tigers need Verlander to return to ace-form for the playoffs. He has a career 2.67 ERA in the ALDS and that's what the Tigers need out of him again.