Start of something good (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday June 19, 2007 11:55AM; Updated: Tuesday June 19, 2007 11:55AM
No starting pitcher has been elected to the Hall of Fame since Nolan Ryan in 1999. (Eckersley is considered a relief pitcher.) If recent voting patterns hold up for holdover candidates on the ballot, you might see the shutout extended to a 14-year drought, due to end in 2013 when Glavine, assuming he retires after this season, goes in -- with the parade of Clemens, Maddux, Johnson, Smoltz and Schilling close behind, followed by Martinez and then . . . who?
Pitching immortality is so much harder to project than hitting greatness. Glavine, Johnson, Smoltz and Schilling did not look like Hall of Famers in their mid-20s. Even some pitchers who do have that look (Gooden, Bret Saberhagen, Fernando Valenzuela) don't hold up. But Verlander does have that special look, as his no-hitter suggests. It's impressive that after Verlander endured an increased workload in innings last season -- which showed in a spotty postseason -- he has bounced back with an even better season this year. His strikeout rate has increased, his ERA has dropped and the batting average against him has sunk. He has held righthanders to a .209 average while allowing them only one home run in 163 at-bats.
Moreover, Detroit manager Jim Leyland has exhibited prudence in how he handles his young pitching star, twice skipping starts last season when he saw the slightest signs of fatigue. Verlander has exceeded 120 pitches in a start only three times in his young career.
Verlander already has had a career filled with accomplishments that few pitchers ever know. What's even more impressive about his fast start is knowing that it's going to get even better.
The Blue Jays have no intention of trading third baseman Troy Glaus, who is signed through next season and would require an overwhelming offer to be moved. Toronto never had a chance to see its team fully healthy this year, and Glaus remains a big part of its plans for 2008. . . . Forget about the Sammy (the Bull) Gravano references for Jason Giambi. The Mitchell committee wants Giambi to answer questions only about his own involvement with steroids -- largely based on what is already public (his grand jury testimony and admission) -- and not about his possible knowledge of other players' usage. . . . One NL scout nailed the state of the game when he said, "The five best teams in baseball are all in the American League." That would mean the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Tigers and Angels. The best NL team, the Mets, "are in the next group" with Oakland and Minnesota, he said. . . . It's time to ban first-base coaches from using stopwatches. Electronic devices are banned in the dugout, so why do coaches on the field get to use them? Coaches time how long it takes a pitcher to release the ball to the plate and then give the information to the runner. The runner then can make a decision on whether or not to attempt a steal based on what the stopwatch says, not his own eyes.