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23 year-old righthander Justin Verlander shut down the fearsome Texas lineup Saturday night, tossing seven scoreless innings while throwing just 89 pitches.  He whiffed seven, including Brad Wilkerson three times.  What's Verlander's outlook for the rest of the season?

I created a Top 20 Fantasy Rookies list back in November, and Verlander ranked 4th.  A little background from Baseball America:

The Padres passed over Verlander for the #1 pick overall, opting for Matt Bush.  Ouch!  He throws a mid-90s heater with a nasty curveball.  His changeup rates well too.  Verlander was a college pick, and breezed through the minors with a 1.29 ERA in 118 innings last year.  He made a couple of starts for the big club that summer, but they didn't go well.

He would've gotten a callup in September, but had been shut down earlier with a tired arm/shoulder. 

To get a better read on the situation, I posed a question to Will Carroll during a February chat:

tdierkes (Chicago, IL): Around how many innings can we expect out of Justin Verlander? I don't think he's ever topped 120 in a pro season.

Will Carroll: 130 last year, between three levels. He ended up tired last year, but not injured. Ideally, I'd like to see him between 150-170 but I wouldn't hate seeing 190 from him if the internal numbers look good.

Hence my projection of 165 innings this year.  Maybe 27-28 starts.  Seems like Will thinks he can get another 3-4 starts on top of that if everything feels good late in the season.

I was fairly modest with his K rate, going with 6.8 per nine.  That's still above average.  I see him having good control and doing a great job keeping the ball in the park.  My initial projected 0.65 HR/9 was a tad ambitious; I've moved it to 0.75 per nine.  Still would be fantastic.

Overall, I projected a 3.48 ERA and 1.24 WHIP for the kid.  He's a serious ROY contender and should win 10+ games for the Tigers.  Given the modest innings total, Verlander is about a $5-6 in a mixed league, maybe 50th overall. 

Verlander is obviously a great keeper league pick.  And the dollar value is deceiving - depending on your league, you can probably get a lot more than that out of his roster spot.  If you only account for DL trips, you could get screwed.  If he tires again late in the year he probably will not go on the DL.  But if you're in a typical league with a few bench spots, you can factor in another 40-50 innings of slightly above average pitching from another starter  if Verlander is shut down or skips a few starts.   


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