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View from the sideline: Verlander for MVP? Maybe.

By MIKE MISICOSports Editor If ever there was a case for a pitcher to win the Most Valuable Player award in Major League Baseball, Detroit’s Justin Verlander has a pretty strong one.Since Vida Blue was named the American League MVP in 1971, a starting pitcher has won the award only once.Roger Clemens claimed the title back in 1986.Dennis Eckersly, a relief pitcher, won it in 1992.Willie Hernandez, a closer for the Tigers, was named MVP in 1984.On Saturday Verlander became the first pitcher to win 20 games this season.In 29 starts he has yet to last fewer than six innings on the mound and he has also gone at least eight innings a total of 13 times.In today’s MLB those statistics alone are an anomaly.Verlander has been dominant nearly every time he starts.He keeps the Tigers in the ballgame and has provided valuable relief for the bullpen.Verlander leads the majors in innings pitched (215 2/3), strikeouts (218), batting average against (.190), WHIP (0.90) and wins (20).Verlander’s 2.38 ERA is the second-best in the AL only behind fellow Cy Young Award candidate Jered Weaver (2.03).Also noteworthy, the last time a pitcher won 20 games before September was when Curt Schilling did it in 2002.When Verlander pitches, the Tigers’ record is an impressive 20-8.Without him, Detroit is roughly a .500 ballclub.The Tigers, thanks to Verlander, haven’t really had to worry about losing streaks lasting that long this season.He is 14-3 when pitching after a Detroit loss.A pitcher has to put together a truly magical season to win the MVP and Verlander has grabbed some attention because it is something we don’t get to see that often.I for one am pulling for him to win but sadly, the odds are not in his favor.Typically the award will go to a big bat, which is unfortunate, because homerun hitters are virtually a dime a dozen in the MLB.They are routine and ordinary.It is rarer to see one pitcher dominate his opponents so consistently and seemingly carry a team on his back.Don’t get me wrong, Verlander is finally receiving some much-needed support offensively and from the bullpen.However, it would be hard to argue that the Tigers would be where they are right now without him.Verlander is without question the MVP of the Detroit Tigers.He is undoubtedly deserving of AL MVP consideration, but historically speaking, his chances of winning the award are slim.Verlander has appeared to defy the odds so far this season and perhaps, when the dust settles, he will be rewarded accordingly.Contact Mike Misico and Return to Paging Mode

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