Don’t watch Justin Verlander pitch. Just don’t do it. If you have anything else to do, chores, dinner, work, or school, don’t watch the Tigers’ ace throw a single pitch. If you do, you won’t stop until he’s done. His lightning fastballs and mind-boggling breaking balls remind us all why we are on the couch and not in a batter’s box. The very idea of facing a 100 MPH fastball from Justin Verlander is scary enough, but knowing he can back it up with a devastating slider or any number if off-speed pitches is purely terrifying.
Yesterday, Verlander won his 19th game of the season. Depending on play-off positioning and rest for the start of the postseason, Verlander could have six more starts. He may not win them all, but he has won his last seven straight, so who knows. If he wins all six starts, that will put him at 25 wins. What does that mean in a recent historical context?
In the last 10 seasons, only Randy Johnson has reached even 24 wins. The last pitcher to win 25 games was Bob Welch in 1990. If Verlander can defy the odds (which is kind of his thing right?), he may become the first pitcher in over 20 years to win 25 games.
But what are the chances of that happening?
Verlander has started 28 games. He has won 19 and lost 5. That means he has 4 no-decisions. 5 losses out of 28 comes to an 18% chance of a loss. 4 no-decisions out of 28 starts comes to a 14% chance of a no-decision. Combined, Verlander has a 32% chance of not getting a win in any given start. If we carry that through to the estimated 34 starts Verlander will make this year, we come up with a total of 10.88 games that will not be won overall. Since Verlander already has 9 games of combined losses and no-decisions, he may be looking at two more starts where he doesn’t get a win. If that does in fact happen, Verlander will finish the year with 23 wins.
Clearly, the probabilities we are working with are based on a relatively small sample size, so it is very possible for Verlander to win more or less games down the stretch. No matter the final total, each time Justin Verlander pitches, it becomes compelling television.
So if you can afford to be sucked in, if you have nothing important to do, setlle in to Verlander’s next start. Allow him to mesmerize you with dominant pitching reminiscent of Hall of Famers long since passed. Allow him to paint a picture of pitching excellence as he pushes the Tigers toward a division crown and himself towards history.
But if you don’t have the time, don’t tune in. All it will take is one pitch and Verlander will have you hooked.