In a candid interview with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, Justin Verlander reveals that he thought his career was in jeopardy back in 2014 when he exited a start in Pittsburgh after one inning. His fastball clocked in the mid-80s that day, and as Verlander recalls, he “sat down and lost it” in the tunnel to the visitor’s clubhouse. His arm was in enough pain that an MRI would reveal he required shoulder surgery. Instead, however, Verlander eventually came to realize that failure to fully rehabilitate from offseason hernia/core muscle surgery had lingering effects throughout his body. Now healthy and enjoying the best season of his career, the Astros’ co-ace tells Morosi that he hopes to play for another decade. “In my head, right now, I’m thinking 45,” said Verlander when asked how long he wants to continue pitching. “I don’t know if that’s realistic. I’m going to go as long as I can, until something changes.”
Here’s more from the division…
- Corey Brock of The Athletic takes a fascinating look at how a pair of 23-year-old first-year employees in the Mariners’ analytics department helped plant the seeds of the surprising Alex Colome/Denard Span acquisition (subscription link). David Hesslink and Skylar Shibayama led a collaborative effort to brainstorm as many different trade possibilities as they could when looking at the team’s newfound financial resources (following Robinson Cano’s suspension) and thin farm system, eventually presenting the framework of the deal to GM Jerry Dipoto. Director of analytics Jesse Smith tells Brock that the trade scenario resonated “like a light bulb clicked” with Dipoto, who went to work pursuing the deal and hammering out the financial component of the swap once the Rays proved interested. Brock’s column also takes a look at Hesslink’s unusual path to the team. The MIT grad was pursued by multiple clubs for a front office role but settled on going to Seattle after the team agreed to draft him in the 34th round and let him pitch professionally before moving to the operations side of the game if that didn’t pan out. The column provides an excellent look at the inner-workings of an unusually early trade of significance and the collaborative process the contributes to many deals throughout the league.
- The Mariners announced tonight that they’ve placed catcher Chris Herrmann on the 10-day disabled list due to a strained right oblique muscle and recalled fellow catcher David Freitas from Triple-A Tacoma in his place. Herrmann appeared in just one game for the Mariners upon having his contract selected from Tacoma over the weekend, and he’ll now be shelved for a fair amount of time, it seems, given the fact that oblique injuries can often keep players on the shelf for upwards of a month. Mike Zunino and Freitas have shouldered the bulk of the workload behind the plate for the Mariners this season, but neither has provided much in the way of offense. Zunino does have eight homers, though he’s also registered an ugly .242 on-base percentage.
- It’s long been assumed that Tim Lincecum would eventually claim a spot in the Rangers’ bullpen, but as T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com explains, that outcome isn’t necessarily a given. As Lincecum has spent the season thus far on the disabled list, the Rangers have seen their relief corps begin to solidify, with Keone Kela, Jose Leclerc, Tony Barnette, Chris Martin, Jake Diekman, Alex Claudio and Jesse Chavez all throwing fairly well. Of course, one injury to that group would make the decision easier for the organization, and it’s not as if the bullpen isn’t without its red flags. Leclerc and Diekman have both displayed terrible control so far, while Matt Bush has already been optioned to Triple-A Round Rock once and hasn’t impressed upon returning. Then again, Lincecum himself hasn’t pitched well in Triple-A; he’s yielded eight earned runs on 13 hits and seven walks with 10 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings.