Imagine what the Detroit Tigers of the mid-1960s would have been like with Justin Verlander in the starting rotation?
Denny McLain can. And, in his mind, Verlander would have fit right in.
“I think he would have done very well with us,” said McLain, who won 31 games for the 1968 World Series champion Tigers and joined with Mickey Lolich to form a dominant one-two duo in the mid- to late-1960s. “And remember, he would have been helped because we had great ball clubs, too.”
McLain, 72, who will be at Wyoming Lee High School on Saturday for the Stubby Overmire Field Sportscard Memorabilia Show and Live Auction, looks at the current Tigers ace as a throwback, especially compared to his peers.
“He’s got very good talent, and he really shines because the other guys are so far behind him,” McLain said. “I do not believe he’s the kind of guy who looks to come out after the fifth or sixth inning. I think he wants to stay in. And I really, really respect that because there are a lot of guys now who want to get to the sixth inning and get the hell out of there.”
McLain, who won 131 games in 10 seasons, logged 336 and 325 innings for the Tigers in 1968 and 1969 with 41 starts each year. Lolich, on the other hand, pitched 376 innings in 45 starts in 1971. Compare that to Verlander’s top marks of 251 and 238 innings pitched the past two years with 33 and 34 starts, respectively.
No one has pitched more than 300 innings since Steve Carlton had 304 with Philadelphia in 1980.
Denny McLain thinks Justin Verlander would have fit in nicely with Tigers of the 1960s
Michigan Live | Feb 21