Verlander, Kazmir still showing their age

Originally Published: June 12, 2006
ESPN.com

BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA

Pitching's future was on display Monday night as two of the best young arms in baseball went head to head in Detroit. Scott Kazmir and Justin Verlander were both quite impressive, though neither was around when the game was decided.

Both Kazmir and Verlander have been dominant at times this season, but they've also shown their age at other times. Kazmir has run high pitch counts throughout his career, making it difficult for him to go deep into games. Verlander has had the occasional blip in his performance when he runs into a potent offense. Both will improve over time. Health likely will determine their success, because the talent is very evident.

STATS THAT IMPRESS: KAZMIR AND VERLANDER IN '06
Kazmir
• Opponents hitting .169 with runners in scoring position
• 3-1, 3.00 ERA in four starts vs. division leaders

Verlander
• Pitched into 7th inning in 10 of 13 starts; 6-1 when pitching at least 7
• On the road: 4-2, 2.34 ERA; opponents batting .199

MAUER NOW THAN EVER

Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer is now, at the age of 23, the Twins' franchise player and will be so visibly when Torii Hunter is gone at the end of either the 2006 or 2007 season. Where he will be on the field is another issue. He's had the knee operation and some leg problems, and some on the Minnesota staff believe that eventually getting him out from behind the plate will free his legs and allow him to be a middle-of-the-order star.

Not that Mauer isn't a good catcher. He is. He has soft hands, an excellent presentation, a good arm and a selfless approach. But like Joe Torre and Craig Biggio, sometimes a player is so good offensively that he needs to get out from behind the plate and let his offense be a priority. Ron Gardenhire believes Mauer is so athletic that he will have no problem playing third base.

More from Gammons' blog Insider

MONDAY'S NEWS AND NOTES
• Injured starter A.J. Burnett (sore right elbow) tossed five hitless innings in a rehab start with Syracuse. Burnett walked one, struck out seven and didn't give up a run. He's expected to make one more rehab start before rejoining the Blue Jays' rotation at Atlanta June 22.

• RHP David Weathers was advised not to throw a ball for a few days. Weathers left Sunday's game after feeling numbness in his arm. The Reds have no immediate plans to put him on the DL.

• Nationals RHP John Patterson made a rehab start for Triple-A New Orleans, giving up two runs, four hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. He's been sidelined since April with a right forearm strain.

• Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo has dropped 3B Melvin Mora from second in the order to third. Perlozzo said he'll continue to do that as long as LF Brandon Fahey continues to hit.

NATS FALL SHORT
Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder help Milwaukee to a 4-3 win at Washington.
FORWARD THINKING: TUESDAY
Devil Rays at Tigers, 7:05 ET: Kenny Rogers (8-3, 3.46 ERA) has fared well at home this season. The 41-year-old left-hander is 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA, and he's given up just one HR in 33 innings. Tampa Bay's Seth McClung (2-8, 6.25) has more walks (42) than strikeouts (32) and more hits (83) than innings pitched (72).

Bronson ArroyoBrewers at Reds, 7:10 ET: Doug Davis (3-4, 5.11) is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts against Cincy this season, but he's issued 12 walks in 12 innings. Bronson Arroyo (8-2, 2.31) has allowed just two earned runs in two starts (both wins) against the Brewers, striking out 14 with just two walks.

Red Sox at Twins, 8:10 ET: Curt Schilling (9-2, 3.81) beat the Yankees last week despite giving up three home runs. AL strikeout leader Johan Santana (6-3, 3.16) has had some trouble with left-handed hitters (.297 BAA).

Tuesday's probables

MONDAY'S TOP PERFORMERS
Jose ContrerasJose Contreras won his 15th straight decision, striking out a career-high 11 in the White Sox's 8-3 victory over the Rangers. Contreras (7-0) didn't walk a batter and threw 75 of his 108 pitches for strikes over eight innings.

David Ross went 2-for-4 with a pair of homers, two runs and three RBI in the Reds' 6-5 loss to the Brewers.

Curtis Granderson's fourth hit of the night scored Brandon Inge in the 13th inning to give the Tigers a 4-3 win over the Devil Rays.

ELIAS SAYS
Prince Fielder Prince Fielder tied Monday's game with an eighth-inning home run off Reds left-hander Kent Mercker, and that's nothing new for the left-handed-hitting rookie. That was Fielder's seventh home run against a southpaw this season, which ties David Ortiz for the third-highest lefty-against-lefty homer total.

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