Let’s take off the kid gloves when it comes to Justin Verlander. OK? Seriously, if we’re willing to ridicule the bullpen for its inability to hold a lead, or take jabs at the offense for its failure to come through in the clutch, or mock the defense for opening the flood gates to a big inning, then why can’t we be critical of Verlander?

For his career, Joe Nathan is more accomplished at his job than Verlander is at his, and we’ll rip the hell out of the Tigers' closer for good reason.

So why can’t we point a finger at the guy who makes $20 million this year and will make $28 million next year through 2019?

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Verlander lost again Wednesday night, to drop to 6-6 on the season. He allowed seven earned runs, eight hits and walked four against the Chicago White Sox. 

It’s the fourth time already this year he’s walked four or more batters in a game. He did that just five times in each of his last two seasons, and just once in his Cy Young Award-winning campaign in 2011.  

Verlander has allowed five runs or more in five of his last six outings, meaning he has more starts allowing five runs than he has limiting teams to two runs or fewer (four times) this season.

In his last 37.2 innings, he has allowed 31 runs and 49 hits. Just as concerning, Verlander has just 67 strikeouts in 93 innings. Only six starts this year has he averaged a strikeout per inning. His WHIP is an incredible 1.51 and his ERA is 4.61, good for 40th and 39th in the American League, respectively. 

I would not be overly concerned if this were his sixth or seventh start, but it’s his 14th of the season. How many more starts will he get? 16 or 17? So he’s almost halfway through his season and his numbers are worse than guys like Chris Tillman, Justin Masterson and Tyler Skaggs.

The difference there is, they don’t make $20 million!

Just like any other fan base, we want to be able to brag we have the best. And because Verlander was considered such just a few years ago, we’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But his contract and performance over the last year and a half force us to look at him with a more critical eye, and it should start now ... if it hasn’t already. 

[PODCAST] Verlander Continues Slide
Shep talks about the Detroit Tigers loss to the Chicago White Sox, the downward spiral of Justin Verlander and the blame towards Brad Ausmus during the team's extended slide.