Should Fantasy Owners Be Concerned About Justin Verlander?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It seems odd to include Justin Verlander any type of buy or sell column, but you can’t imagine how many comments I’ve heard from people wondering if they should sell Verlander. Given his 3.90 ERA and 1.38 WHIP he obviously hasn’t lived up to expectations and there actually are some potential concerns popping up in the underlying numbers.

He has had some poor luck, given his .347 BABIP, though the flipside is that he’s been hit hard. He is currently sporting a 23.2% line drive rate after a 22.2% mark in 2012. Yes, he is still piling up the strikeouts (10.21 K/9), but when opponents hit the ball they are really hitting it.

Could the unbelievable workload he’s had over the past few years be catching up to him? He has six straight years of at least 200 innings and four straight of at least 224 (not including the playoffs). That has to wear on an arm, and a decrease in velocity has been evident:

  • 2011 – 95.0 mph
  • 2012 – 94.3 mph
  • 2013 – 92.6 mph

Maybe part of it is a conscious effort to conserve his arm, but it still needs to be mentioned.

As if an elevated line drive rate and decline in velocity wasn’t enough, Verlander has also seen a decline in his control this season. He currently owns a 3.25 BB/9 after posting four straight years at or below 2.85 (including three under 2.40). It is not a huge jump, but it does help add to his problems.

Is it time to push the panic button and sell him for pennies on the dollar? Obviously not, but fantasy owners who were depending on him need to realize the issues at this point and it is justified to be concerned. The strikeout numbers may distract us a little bit, but there are underlying issues that have been there since last season.

The fact is I wouldn’t be against selling Verlander, as long as you receive market value in return. I would not sell low based on the metrics, because we all know exactly what Verlander is capable of doing. Do you want to be the idiot who gives up on a Top 5 starter?

Just be aware of the numbers and proceed accordingly. That’s unfortunately all we can do at this point.

What are your thoughts of Verlander?  Do you expect a big rebound?  Is he a player you would buy or sell?


  1. David says:

    I just traded Verlander for Jordan Zimmerman and Craig Kimbrel. I feel like that is a good return for him. Do you agree?

  2. Greg says:

    Would you trade Verlander for Justin Upton?

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    David – I think it s a fair return, depending on the format. Closers are always risky, but Kimbrel is an exception to that rule.

    Greg – I would still prefer Verlander I think. Upton has struggled since April.

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