Leyland: Verlander 'becoming the best'

Leyland: Verlander 'becoming the best'

Leyland: Verlander 'becoming the best'
DETROIT -- After another dominating start, the number of superlatives to describe pitcher Justin Verlander this season are running low.

Thirteen of his 14 starts this season have been quality starts and he holds a 7-3 record. After an eight-inning, season-high, 10-strikeout performance against the Mariners on Thursday, Verlander's ERA on the season stands at 2.89 and his WHIP is 0.94 -- the second-lowest in the Majors -- in 102 2/3 innings, which is the most in the Majors.

"He's got the best stuff of anybody I've ever had, there's no question about that," manager Jim Leyland said after Thursday's game. "Pure, crude stuff, he's got the best. He's still in the process of becoming the best pitcher, which I think is a possibility. Justin's starting to figure things out pretty good."

One of those things Verlander is beginning to improve upon is controlling his emotions. Leyland called Thursday's seventh and eighth innings two of the best he's seen Verlander pitch this season. Verlander stayed composed with a late lead and a high pitch count, when many pitchers get "hyper," according to Leyland.

"He's learned to calm down a little bit more, not get quite as hyper, not overthrow as much, not get quite as antsy in some situations," Leyland said Friday. "He's on his way, he should become a great pitcher."

Verlander's third-to-last pitch Thursday -- No. 124 -- was clocked at 98 mph. He said he would have been able to pitch the ninth inning if called upon, but Leyland went with closer Jose Valverde. His velocity isn't slowing down, and there aren't any signs Verlander's success will either.

"All my preparation in the offseason is what comes into play during the season," Verlander said Thursday. "This is why I work my tail off during the offseason, so that I can do what I'm doing right now, go late into games, throw [a lot of] pitches, still feel good and come back strong next game."