NEW YORK -- Jack Morris, the former Tigers ace who has gotten to know Justin Verlander over the years, watched Verlander's performance in Game 5 of the American League Division Series and was impressed at his approach.
To him, that's a step in the direction Verlander could eventually go as he enters the next stage of his career. He still racked up 11 strikeouts, but he didn't try to overpower every hitter.
It might not come right away, maybe not even in the next few years, but he'll eventually make the transition.
"From what I saw, he wasn't throwing a lot of fastballs in the first inning," Morris said. "He was throwing a lot of changeups, a lot of breaking balls, and he was trying to get them to swing out of the zone. Those things all help, but he still punched out 11. He still likes that, and the reason he likes it is that he's good at it.
"My point is, just my prediction, Justin will get to a point where they're not going to come as easy someday."
That's age, and it's something Morris learned in the mid-80s. He led the AL in strikeouts in 1983 and topped 200 in 1986 and '87, then got away from it as he entered his early 30s. Part of the credit, he said, goes to Doyle Alexander, who came over in the John Smoltz trade of 1987.
"The longer you're out there, the less bullets you're going to have," Morris said. "At some point in his career, he's going to realize, 'I don't have what I once had.' But you know what? He might become a better pitcher then."