Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In 2006 Justin Verlander was on the verge of become an elite pitcher in major league baseball. He put up a 17-9 record, struck out 124 in 186 innings and posted a 3.63 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He was 23- years-old with a 100 m.p.h. fastball and a sharp-breaking curve.
The following year was even better, going 18-6 with 183 KS in 201.2 innings. He kept his ERA almost the same (3.63) and lowered his WHIP to 1.23.
But he and the Detroit Tigers got off to a very slow beginning in 2008. Through the end of April he was 1-4 with a 6.60 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and more walks (17) than strikeouts (14).
Many owners were forced to take him out of their lineup.
He improved slightly in May, but starting with his second June outing against the Chicago White Sox on June 11th it appears the "old" Verlander was almost back. In that game he went all nine innings yielding just one earned run and struck out three. Only the strikeout total was not up to his standards.
Five days later he struck out seven in a six inning no-decision and on June 22nd struck out 10 San Diego Padres en route to a win. That would have been the perfect time to work out a deal for the youngster.
It will now cost more to obtain Verlander because his July numbers are 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. He has 26 strikeouts in his last 24 innings.
Meanwhile, the Tigers are also heating up going 21-9 over their last 30 games and averaging just over five runs per outing. The combination of Verlander returning to form and the Tiger's offense getting in gear should set up a big second half for the right-hander.
He probably isn't available in keeper leagues as his potential over the next 10 years would make trading for him near impossible, but you might still be able to trade for him in non-keeper league if their owner hasn't been paying attention lately.