ST. PETERSBURG -- The bad news for Justin Verlander, and the downfall in his matchup with the Rays and David Price on Friday, was his struggle to command his fastball. The good news Verlander got out of the outing was the rediscovery of his changeup.
It's a pitch that was good to Verlander during his Cy Young and MVP Award-winning campaign last year, as well as the two seasons before that, but he said he hasn't had a feel for the pitch for most of this season. He has thrown it as much or more than last year, according to pitch-type numbers on fangraphs.com, but hasn't gotten the results he wanted out of it.
Verlander induced nine swings and misses out of 32 changeups he threw Friday, 18 of them for strikes, according to data from MLB.com's Gameday application and brooksbaseball.com.
"My changeup has been absent for a couple months now," he said. "It was nice to get a good feel for that again with good depth. I've been able to throw it for strikes, but it hasn't had much action on it. Tonight was better, so that's a positive that I'm looking forward to working with down the road."
Verlander has one more start left before the All-Star break, a July 4 matchup with the Twins at Comerica Park. The Tigers have not announced their rotation after the All-Star break, but with consecutive series against the White Sox and Indians looming in late July, it wouldn't be a surprise if they tweak their pitching order to allow Verlander to face both teams. He can't do that if he pitches the first game out of the break in Baltimore.