It was back on a trip to Oakland in April that Verlander first hit 101 mph on the radar gun as a member of the Tigers. The game itself didn't go as smoothly as Verlander would have liked, with the Tigers picking up a loss, but the pitcher has learned that while velocity doesn't necessarily guarantee wins, it certainly allows for a better chance."It definitely allows me to make some more mistakes in a ballgame," Verlander said. "It just gives me more room for error. Obviously, I don't want to make errors because it makes it all the tougher. But I can get away with some now and again." Learning to pitch is something that Verlander admits he's still doing and hopes to continue throughout his career. It's definitely a different pitcher who returns to Oakland from his first start here in April. Verlander's final two starts against this Oakland club showed that, too, as they went drastically better. The right-hander allowed just one run in each of his final two starts against the A's. And while Verlander continues to show poise and a will to succeed, the question of how such a young pitcher will do as the club progresses further in the postseason remains. Verlander had never before pitched in October, let alone September, after being shut down in early August last season in the Minor Leagues due to arm fatigue.
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That's why when asked where he was just a year ago, Verlander didn't hesitate with an answer."I had just bought my place down in Florida, so I was getting that situated -- not playing baseball, that's for sure," Verlander said. Knowing that Verlander had previously experienced problems with fatigue, the Tigers skipped over his final regular-season start to give him 10 days' rest before his first postseason start. This time, it will be just one extra day of rest that the young pitcher will get, but it's enough for Verlander to think that he should be just as ready to go in this start as he was his last -- this time hoping to help his team go up by two games before heading home. "I definitely think it's a good thing," Verlander said of the extra day. "I had 10 days before my last start, and [I] felt really good, so one extra day I think will benefit me."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.