Everyone knows that Zack Greinke has been brilliant this year. The young Royals ace has been quite the story of the first two months, blowing hitters away and racking up some hilarious numbers through nine starts. However, for the last month or so, he’s actually been out pitched by a division rival.
Here’s what Justin Verlander has done in his last six starts.
42 1/3 innings, 24 hits, 0 home runs, 10 walks, 60 strikeouts, 1.14 FIP, 0.85 ERA
Of the 24 hits he’s allowed, 21 have been singles. He’s faced 159 batters, and they are hitting .162/.220/.182 against him. National League pitchers are hitting .139/.190/.172 on the season, if you want a frame of reference for just what kind of domination Verlander is currently enjoying.
Included in those six starts are three of the top four strikeout games in the American League this season. On May 14th, Verlander struck out 13 Twins batters. On May 3rd and May 8th, he struck out 11 Indians batters. Joba Chamberlain is the only other AL pitcher to record 11+ strikeouts in a game this season, and he did it once.
Verlander’s second game against the Indians registered a game score of 92 – the best any pitcher has had this season. So much for figuring out a pitcher after you’ve gotten a chance to see him twice in the same week. The Indians were happy to see Verlander move on to destroying other team’s offensive hopes.
In terms of WPA, Verlander has racked up 2.30 wins during his current six start stretch of brilliance. Greinke leads all major league starters in WPA with a 2.50 mark, which averages out to .27 WPA per start. Verlander is averaging .38 WPA per start during his last six appearances.
In fact, you can look at all the different combinations of six start stretches that Greinke has had this year, and none of them are quite as good as the one Verlander is currently on. Yes, we’re splitting hairs a bit when we’re saying the guy with a 1.14 FIP is pitching better than the guy with a 1.40 FIP, as both of them are pitching at remarkably awesome levels, and the point isn’t to downgrade Greinke’s accomplishments in the slightest – I just want to give some context to how good Verlander has been as of late.
His season ERA might only stand at 3.55 thanks to some rough performances by his teammates during his first four starts, but Verlander has taken them out of the equation for the last month or so. With a 12.76 K/9 during his run of unhittableness, he’s eliminating the possibility for bad defense or tough luck to mask how well he’s been pitching all year.
He’s got a lot of ground to gain, given how much better Greinke did to begin the year, but Verlander is pitching at a Cy Young level right now. Watching these two face off all summer should be a lot of fun.