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Closing Time: More crooked numbers for Justin Verlander

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Detroit's No. 3 starter (USAT)

Yeah, Justin Verlander again. It's going to be mostly review. It wasn't much of a news day.

Toronto didn't start Edwin Encarnacion (back) Thursday afternoon in Detroit, but it wasn't enough to spare Verlander from another messy line (7 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 2 HR). The righty's ERA is up to 4.19, the WHIP bloated to 1.47. His K/BB is under two (always a red flag), and he's not even striking out seven men per nine innings. You spent a third or fourth round pick for this?

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Name brands don't wear off easily, but it's important to accept how long this has been going on. If you run a calendar year query on Verlander, this is what comes back: 12-13 record, 3.66 ERA, 1.36 WHIP. It's a good thing he's keeping the ball in the park (6.7 HR/FB), else the numbers would really be ugly.

Velocity doesn't solve every mystery of the mound, but consider Verlander's fastball trend from 2010 to today, it's troubling:

2010: 95.4 mph
2011: 95.0 mph
2012: 94.3 mph
2013: 93.3 mph
2014: 92.2 mph

Verlander's solid start last week at Seattle created a selling window. Be on the lookout for another one of those. You only need to find one believer. I don't like him at the White Sox next week, but maybe he'll be on his game. After that he's home against Minnesota (favorable) and at Cleveland (pesky). It's a shame he won't pitch in the Kansas City series; the Royals don't even hit home runs in batting practice.

(I spent part of Thursday afternoon trying to get a Verlander prop out of noted JV Sympathizer Chris Liss. It's interesting that we didn't agree on anything. I'm not poking fun at my buddy here, Liss is a good man. And he's going to send his daughter to college on all the George Springer props I'm losing to him.)

One throwaway fact from the Jays win: Melky Cabrera, Juan Francisco, and Brett Lawrie each hit his tenth homer, and Casey Janssen recorded his tenth save. Well, isn't that cute? It's almost like they're on some shared cycle or something. (I love this Toronto team. I hope the Jays go all-in for a pitcher at the deadline, and I hope they meet Oakland in the ALCS – with the one and only Rickey Henderson throwing out the first pitch at every game.)

Roenis Elias is already one of the most-added players for Friday, but the number could go a lot higher. He's owned in a modest 18 percent of Yahoo leagues, and he draws the hacking mass known as the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend. A 3.53 ERA and 1.23 WHIP is ownable in most pools anyway (along with 65 whiffs in 74 innings), but things are especially groovy when you're facing the 2014 version of the Hit Show.

Alex Cobb goes on the other side (and he's probably Tampa's best pitcher), but that's not dissuading me from using Elias. And maybe it's a temp-to-perm assignment for the lefty; after the Tampa stop, he's at home for the Yanks and Padres. Pitching at Safeco, good work if you can get it.

You want to get excited about Minnesota's Oswaldo Arcia, you just hope Thursday's ankle sprain isn't a big thing. He's collected two homers and eight RBIs the last two days, enough to make you forget about that horrendous K/BB ratio (17 whiffs, one walk over 63 at-bats). You know how the line goes: why throw a strike if he'll swing at a ball? But pop isn't easy to find in 2014, and Arcia has it (18 homers in 414 MLB at-bats). He might just make it after all (hats in the air, please). He's yours to add in 89 percent of The Y.

Speaking of swing-freely Minnesotans, Danny Santana might be worth a look if you need some stolen bases. He's swiped three bags in his last six games, and he's batted leadoff most of this week. His minor-league pedigree, well, it's not so hot. But he qualifies at three Yahoo positions (second, short, outfield), and he's 99 percent available. I'll kick the tires in the F&F, where I could use a few bags. Maybe Santana will take hold of the team's center-field job.

Let's do something new in this space: offer a kind word about Houston reliever Chad Qualls. He's been lights-out of late, and the Astros are starting to resemble a big-league ballclub.

Qualls was the last man standing in Thursday's win over the Angels, picking up save No. 6. Qualls hasn't allowed a run over his last 16 appearances. He's allowed one baserunner (against eight strikeouts) over his last nine outings, and his season numbers sure look pretty (2.29 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 22 K, 3 BB). Qualls is still available in 65 percent of Yahoo leagues? Fix that number.

I know sometimes you want drops to go along with the adds, so here are some relief pitchers I'd cut for Qualls (assuming you can't trade them first): LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Melancon, John Axford, Jim Johnson (42-percent owned? Come on.) Joe Nathan or Qualls? It's a conversation. Ernesto Frieri? Give me The Q.

That's all we've got for today. Stay hydrated, gamers. 

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