Leave it to a former battery-mate to try and get the best of Justin Verlander.
With Verlander pitching at Comerica Park as an opponent on Monday, James McCann found himself on second base in the seventh inning. After catching a fair amount of Verlander’s outings when they were teammates, McCann developed somewhat of an understanding for how Justin operates. He tried using that knowledge to his advantage.
“I am sure Ver was like, ‘Man, I know McCann knows my signs,’” McCann told the Detroit News. “But he didn’t really give me enough pitches to be able to pick up the signs. I was just guessing what he was going to throw.”
Verlander did end up calling catcher Martin Maldonado to the mound twice while McCann was on second base.
“I was just making head motions and doing stuff,” McCann said. “Just trying to do anything I could to get him thinking, even a little bit, about something other than executing the pitch. Maybe he’d make a mistake.”
While McCann’s attempts at distracting Verlander were noble, they didn’t have any affect on JV. He ended the frame by striking both JaCoby Jones and Jeimer Candelario out, leaving McCann stranded on second base.
When asked if he noticed anything that McCann was doing to distract him, Verlander gave the most Verlander answer possible: “He was? I didn’t even notice.”
On the season, Verlander has a record of 15-9, with a sparkling 2.72 ERA in 195 innings pitched for the Astros. While those number are good, his strikeout rate is even more impressive. Through those 195 innings, Verlander has already racked up 258 strikeouts, which leaves him only 11 short of his career high of 269. The only real blemish in his numbers would have to be a tendency to serve up the long ball, which has happened a total of 27 times.