Justin Verlander came one walk short of a perfect game. He’s got two no-nos, and when dialing down means throwing 98 mph instead of his usual 101 mph, he just might have it in him to do his legacy a solid and throw a perfect game.
Verlander possesses freakish arm strength, blowing a 100 mph fastball past Rajai Davis on his 106th pitch.
It’s easy to forget how young, or how good, Verlander is. I remember meeting him in the elevator of the Adams Mark hotel in St. Louis in 2006, a day before giving the World Series away to the Cardinals with an error-prone outing. Him, Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman were all giddy goose asses, clutching a brown paper bag and snickering. He was too young to party with veteran lefty Kenny Rogers, a true nice guy despite his cameraman incident in Texas. Rogers was old enough to meet and greet fans with a nice glass of whiskey in the hotel lobby.
Verlander shook our hands and said, just a sec, I need to call my mom and tell her I’m OK. He was 23, two years removed from being the second overall pick of the 2004 draft.
Look at him now, all grown up, and still without a Cy Young. With his power fastball, a sharp curve and durability, we may have found the heir to the Ryan Express. Five more no-no’s to go and we’ve got ourselves a future Hall of Famer.