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Justin Verlander: No structural damage in shoulder after leaving with soreness

Big League Stew

 

The Detroit Tigers, already on the verge of dropping out of first place in the American League Central, also have to worry about losing right-hander Justin Verlander. He made only 40 pitches in his start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night, leaving after one inning because of a sore shoulder. The team made the annoucement on Twitter:

UPDATE: Optimism.

 

Verlander allowed five runs — four earned — and five hits along with two walks and three strikeouts in the shortest outing of his career. Curiously, he laid down a bunt in the top of the second before being replaced on the mound in the next half-inning. The Tigers trailed by four runs when he left and fell 11-6 at PNC Park.

Verlander's ERA rose to 4.76 and his WHIP went to 1.42. He was the AL's Cy Young winner in 2011 and the runner-up in 2012, but has been mediocre or worse since signing a contract extension before the 2013 season that could be worth upward of $200 million.

Verlander said he'll have an MRI on Tuesday. It also appears that he has been feeling discomfort for a while and kept pitching anyway:

 

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Brooks Baseball shows that Verlander's fastball velocity has been down about 2 mph over the past two months, and his fastball against the Bucs was 88-90 mph — way below the 94-plus he's used to throwing. He's not the team's ace anymore, with newcomer David Price and Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation — and Verlander might be no better than the team's fifth-best starter when everyone is healthy. But his loss would be huge to the Tigers, who Sunday placed starter Anibal Sanchez and reliever Joakim Soria on the disabled list, and already were struggling with bullpen depth. Also not helping was the 19-inning game the Tigers lost Sunday to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Detroit had a 7 1/2 game lead in the AL Central as recently as July 12, but Monday fell behind the Kansas City Royals, who beat the Oakland A's 3-2 to jump the Tigers in the standings.

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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