Justin Verlander trade Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

When three-time Cy Young Award-winner Justin Verlander isn’t on his “A” game, he’s still just as dominant.

At this point in the spring, you’d think he would have a sense of “figured it out,” but that’s not necessarily the case. But he’s a workhorse — he’s diligent in his planning. When things don’t go exactly to plan, he feels off.

Even after striking out eight.

“I need some work. I felt a little sloppy today,” Verlander told MLB.com’s Bill Ladson on Wednesday. “Spring Training isn’t necessarily about results. … Today was one of those days where I felt the slider was a bit loose.”

“We need to tighten it up a little bit. … The slider was kind of rolling out of my hand a little bit. I was running away from it with my body.”

In five innings, he gave up one hit and struck out eight against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

At this point of The Grapefruit League, pitchers are concentrating more on their secondary pitches. Making sure all of those loose ends are tied. Verlander has become adamant about perfecting his slider.

“I didn’t quite have the reaction from the hitters I would like to see when it was on,” Verlander continued. “I know they swung and missed a few of them. I had a few strikeouts with it. But they recognized the pitch. They had some good takes on it. The ones that they did swing and miss at, I felt they recognized the pitch just enough to stay back instead of going after it [like it was] a fastball.”

It’s an important pitch in his repertoire to break from the opposite way of his changeup and fastball.

Verlander signed a two-year, $86.7 million contract this offseason with the New York Mets. He had a league-best 1.75 ERA in 2022 across 28 starts with the Houston Astros.


About Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jess is a baseball fan with Reno, Nev. roots residing in the Bay Area. She is the host of "Short and to the Point" and is also a broadcaster with the Oakland A's Radio Network. She previously worked for MLB.com and NBC Sports Bay Area.