MLB: ALDS-Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics

Durability is neigh invaluable in the big leagues. Innings, innings, innings. It is a point of pride among pitchers and a valued asset among general managers. If you’re healthy, you’re wealthy.

Justin Verlander has long been the best of both worlds – the performance and the durability. Eight years in the bigs without a single trip to the disabled list. Seven straight seasons of 32 starts or more, seven straight seasons of 200 innings. Lead the league in starts three times and innings pitched three times, topping the 250 innings mark in 2011 when he won both the Cy Young and American League MVP.

He pitched all those innings at an incredibly high level. He’s a marvel and a wonder. And now, for the first time in his career, he’s hurt.

Well, there are two things about the above statement that are less than 100% true. Verlander has never been on the disabled list in his career, though some shoulder tightness slowed him in the minors briefly as well as the odd leg thing or blister thing that bothered him in the past. And, as today is January 10th, there is no need to worry about the DL, either.

But the news that Verlander underwent surgery to repair a “core muscle” injury should send shivers down the spine of all Tigers fans. The Tigers ace suffered the injury while training for the upcoming season, a haunting reminder that all of us are on nothing but borrowed time.

That’s the thing about health – for all most of us know, you’re healthy until you aren’t. The best mechanics and the stoutest of constitutions hold strong right up until the moment that they don’t. The workhorse drags that plough right up until the moment it keels over.

We need not look much farther than Roy Halladay, the pitcher of determination and hard work whose body up and quit on him at the age of 33. It happens. It happens to the best of us. Those who can escape the cruel claws of injury can credit their genes, their training, their coaches and their lucky stars.

Verlander’s rehab is expected to take about six weeks, which miraculously bleeds into the start of Tigers Spring Training. That Verlander makes his seventh consecutive Opening Day start is hardly in doubt.

But it shows that if it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone. It also sort of shows that, after trading Doug Fister, the Tigers mighty rotation is just one injury away from chaos. Well, chaos with a small-c. Max Scherzer is pretty good in his own right and Anibal Sanchez is sort of awesome, too. Rick Porcello is no slouch even if he’s no ace. Drew Smyly is interesting and Jose Alvarez isn’t nothing. Um, what was I saying again? Man, the Tigers are stacked.

Important Read of the Day

Braves v Dodgers

Mike Piazza didn’t garner enough votes for Hall of Fame inshrinement this year, but it will come soon for the best offensive catcher in the game’s history. Like many of his generation, he cannot escape steroid allegations despite little in the way of evidence.

Dan Lewis digs into Mike Piazza’s past for Amazin Avenue, pulling up scouting reports and minor league numbers showing his big league power was no joke. The entire premise of Piazza has some slugger who wandered in from the wilderness simply isn’t so, and this piece does a great job showing where this story first gained traction.

Pickin’ cherries

Did you know Jack Morris was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s? I have a feeling you probably knew that. But who was the winningest pitcher of the 90s? I remember the 90s and I have no idea. What about the time period between strikes, 1981 to 1994? What about any other random timeframe of your choosing?

Well now you have just to tool to create and then win such barstool debates as “who stole the most bases between Year X and Year Y?” with the cherrypicker baseline tool! It’s downright brilliant and a neat visual aid to boot. Get in there and get arbitrary!

(H/t to Bill Baer)

Lesson learned

Not enough people remember Groucho Marx’s greatest truism – “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member.”

The Tubes – like it’s their job

2014 is the year of grabass and Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus are the patron saints. Next-level grabass on the biggest stage imaginable.