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Is Justin Verlander's injury a sign of the times for the Tigers?

Rick Osentoski--US PRESSWIRE
Cleveland Indians fans need to rejoice at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario...because the Detroit Tigers are in serious trouble.

According to mlive.com reporter Chris Iott, Justin Verlander is heading to the disabled list for the first time in his career.He's never pitched less than 186 innings (his first year in the league), and after the 2006 season, has never pitched under 200 innings.

No, Justin Verlander isn't the only player worthwhile on the Tigers. Far from it, and no, I'm not rejoicing that the Tigers' anchor over the past decade is hurt.

Yes, the Tigers still won in 2014 with Justin Verlander not performing like the superstar that he's been since his first full year in the league.

But the 2015 Detroit Tigers aren't the team they were in 2014. Two-fifths of the vaunted pitching staff are gone from last year's team. The Tigers dealt away Rick Porcello to the Boston Red Sox for Yeonis Cespedes, then lost Max Scherzer when he signed with the Washington Nationals during this year's hot stove season.

The do still have David Price headlining the Tigers' staff, and Anibal Sanchez is formidable as well, but the rotation will be filled with Shane Green and Alfredo Simon, and this was before Verlander went on the DL.

While it's possible that Verlander's injury isn't something the Tigers will have to worry about too much (he's eligible to return to the Tigers' rotation on August 12th), you do have to wonder about the implications of Verlander's first DL-stint.

This team isn't getting any younger, and they really haven't done a whole lot to replenish the coffers. Their offense will be good with the addition of Cespedes, but Victor Martinez's offseason injury (he's since returned) was the first inkling that age and injuries could start playing a part in the demise of this Tigers' team that's won the AL Central four straight seasons.

There were already worries that the 32-year old Verlander was going to struggle again this year thanks to a drop in velocity and command. With his season starting on the DL, that should only enhance the feeling that their once sure-fire ace will no longer be able to shoulder the burden of being a dependable part of their rotation.

While the 31-year old Sanchez is a pitcher that I'd love to have on the North Shore, he only made 21 starts last year, and only pitched in 126 innings. He's seen a bit of a decline over the past two seasons, and has seemingly passed his prime years.

Simon was an all-star last year for the Reds. It was also his first full year as a starter, and he's 33-years old to top it off. Greene looked good for the Yankees last year, but at 26, has spent one season in the bigs, to the tune of 78 2/3 innings.

You can smell the regression from here, and I'm not going to lie, it smells pretty damn sweet.

I know that it's a bold statement to make without a single meaningful game having been played, and it's true that it might be wishful thinking that the Tigers are on the decline. Little Caesar has some serious money that we are all aware of, and I'm still fairly convinced that Dave Dombrowski is nothing short of a witch.

But I can't help but think that this Verlander injury is a metaphor for the Tigers' 2015 season to come. They are an aging team, and their minor league system is in complete disarray. They've lost nearly their entire top ten to deals and injuries, and there's no indication that there are replacements worthwhile available.

What does this mean to the Indians?

Do I have to be a rocket scientist to spell it out for you?

Obviously, the Tribe looks to improve upon back-to-back winning seasons, and currently have a top five starting rotation themselves, that boasts Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. On top of that, the offense looks to see a boost with the addition of Brandon Moss, a return-to-form from Jason Kipnis and with the already established Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley returning.

The Central in general should see some improvement, and while the talent level overall is questioned, the Indians look to be the cream of the crop...

...and this was before the Verlander injury surfaced.

My hope is that Justin Verlander makes it back and has a healthy 2015 season. I honestly don't think that it matters one way or another, and I'm not one to hope for an injury to any player, at any time, for any team.

But the Tigers' AL Central "dynasty" has seen better days, and that could be the understatement of the century.


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