Hot Takes: Five Bold AL Central Predictions

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Oct 3, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws a pitch against the Baltimore Orioles during the second inning of game two of the 2014 ALDS playoff baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Verlander Becomes An Ace Again

No, I’m not just talking about Verlander taking that role in the de facto sense. Regardless of whether or not the Tigers resign Max Scherzer (and they really ought to), look for Verlander to prove 2014 was nothing more than an outlier.

Verlander is 31 (32 in February), and is the same age as the dominant Scherzer. Having strung together five-straight all-star seasons prior to last year, Verlander fell off a cliff. In 2011, Verlander won both the Cy Young and MVP award, and then followed the performance up by finishing second in the Cy Young race for 2012.

His 4.54 ERA last season was the second worst of his career. After posting a 4.84 ERA in 2008, Verlander rebounded to the tune of a 3.45 ERA the following season, and finished third in the Cy Young race. I’ll take the bait and argue that he sees a similar sort of rebound this season. The Tigers will be badly hoping for the same thing.

Prediction: Verlander throws to a 3.40 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 213 strikeouts, and a 8.8 K/9