Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander

Verlander with the Detroit Tigers in 2013
Detroit Tigers – No. 35
Starting pitcher
Born: (1983-02-20) February 20, 1983
Manakin-Sabot, Virginia
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
July 4, 2005, for the Detroit Tigers
MLB statistics
(through 2016 season)
Win–loss record 173–106
Earned run average 3.47
Strikeouts 2,197
Career highlights and awards
Medal record
Men's baseball
Representing  United States
Pan American Games
2003 Santo Domingo Team competition

Justin Brooks Verlander (born February 20, 1983) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball (MLB). He is currently the longest tenured player on the Tigers, and the only player left on the team from the 2006 American League Championship team.

In 2006, Verlander was named the American League (AL) Rookie of the Year.[1] On June 12, 2007, he pitched a no-hitter—the first ever at Comerica Park—against the Milwaukee Brewers, striking out 12 batters and walking four.[2] He pitched a second no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 7, 2011, in Toronto, walking one and facing the minimum 27 batters.[3] On November 15, 2011, Verlander was named the 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner by a unanimous vote, becoming the first American League pitcher since Johan Santana in 2006 to win the award in such a fashion. On November 21, 2011, Verlander was voted the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP), winning with 280 points over Jacoby Ellsbury's 242, completing a sweep of the Cy Young Award and MVP.[4]

Baseball career

Amateur career

Verlander's father Richard sent him to The Richmond Baseball Academy. He was able to throw his fastball 84 mph (135 km/h) shortly after joining the academy. His velocity plateaued at 86 mph (138 km/h) during his senior year at Goochland High School, during which he was sidetracked by strep throat.[5] Verlander's velocity reached 87 mph (140 km/h) during his first year at Old Dominion.

Verlander, a 6′ 5", 200 pound (1.96 m, 91 kg) right-handed pitcher, played for the Old Dominion University baseball team for three years. On May 17, 2002, he struck out a then-school record 17 batters against James Madison. In 2003, he set a school single-season record by recording 139 strikeouts. In 2004, he broke his own record and established a new Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) record with 151 strikeouts. Verlander completed his career as the all-time strikeout leader in Old Dominion, the CAA and the Commonwealth of Virginia (Division I) history with 427 in 335⅔ innings. During his three years, he averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings and his career collegiate earned run average (ERA) was 2.57.

Verlander pitched for the USA national baseball team in 2003 and helped the USA to a silver medal in the Pan American Games. He was named CAA Rookie of the Year in 2002 and earned All-CAA honors in 2003 and 2004. Verlander was named the ODU Alumni Association's Male Athlete of the Year in 2004, and was the second overall pick in the 2004 Major League Baseball draft by the Detroit Tigers.

Minor leagues

Verlander's professional baseball career began when the Detroit Tigers selected him second overall in the 2004 MLB Draft. He signed a contract on October 25, 2004. Verlander made his professional debut in 2005. He played for two of Detroit's minor league affiliates, the Lakeland Flying Tigers (A+) and the Erie SeaWolves (AA), and also started two games for the Tigers in July. After posting a 9–2 record and a 1.67 ERA in 13 starts for Lakeland, Verlander joined the SeaWolves on June 20.

On July 4, 2005, Verlander started against the Cleveland Indians and pitched 5⅓ innings, gave up four runs and was credited with a loss. He also made a start against the Minnesota Twins 19 days later. Verlander lost both of his major league starts in 2005, but in seven starts with Erie, he was 2–0 and his ERA was 0.28. Tightness in his right shoulder caused Verlander's season to end in early August when he was placed on the disabled list. Verlander was recognized as a Florida State League all–star, was a starting pitcher in the Futures Game and, according to Baseball America, was Detroit's highest rated prospect.[1]

Detroit Tigers (2005–present)


Verlander made his Major League debut on July 4, 2005. He went 0–2 with a 7.15 ERA in his only 2 starts of the season.


Verlander and his teammates celebrate after the final out of his first no-hitter.

In his first full Major League season, Verlander went 17–9 with a 3.63 ERA, striking out 124 batters in 186 innings. On July 4, 2006, at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California, Verlander, Joel Zumaya, and Fernando Rodney each threw multiple fastballs over 100 mph (160 km/h), becoming the first time in MLB history that three pitchers, on the same team, had done so during a game. He allowed one stolen base in 2006 and picked off seven baserunners. In 2006, he became the first rookie pitcher in the history of the game to win 10 games before the end of June and was named AL Rookie of the Year at the end of the season. During Game 1 of the 2006 World Series, Verlander was the Tigers starting pitcher against Anthony Reyes of the St. Louis Cardinals; it was the first instance in which two rookies faced off to start a World Series.[6]


His success continued in 2007, as he accumulated 18 wins and posted a 3.66 ERA with 183 strikeouts in 201⅔ innings. On June 12, Verlander recorded a no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers, striking out 12 while throwing a fastball 102 mph (164 km/h).

Verlander pitching in 2008


In 2008, Verlander lost four consecutive games before winning his first one. He led MLB in losses with 17. Overall, he finished the 2008 season with an 11–17 win–loss record and a 4.84 ERA.


In 2009, Verlander finished with a 19–9 record, an ERA of 3.45 and an MLB-leading 269 strikeouts, the most by a Tiger since Mickey Lolich's 308 in 1971,[7] while his 10.1/9 IP strikeout rate led all American League starters. His 19 wins led the majors this season. Verlander finished third in the AL Cy Young Award voting behind winner Zack Greinke and runner-up Félix Hernández.


In the offseason, Verlander and the Tigers reached a deal for a five-year, $80 million contract extension.[8] On July 3, Verlander earned his 10th win of the season. This marked the fourth time in five years he has had double digit wins before the All-Star break. On September 18, Verlander beat the Chicago White Sox, throwing a complete game to earn his 17th win of the season. Verlander was the first pitcher to win 17 games in four of his first five seasons since Dwight Gooden.[9] He finished the 2010 season with an 18–9 record and a 3.37 ERA, while fanning 219 batters in 224 13 innings.


On April 22, Verlander recorded his 1,000th career strikeout in a 9–3 win over the White Sox, becoming the 15th Tiger to do so.[10] On May 7, he recorded his second career no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, throwing four strikeouts, walking one batter and throwing at a maximum speed of 101 mph (163 km/h) on the radar gun. He carried a perfect game into the eighth inning before allowing a walk to J. P. Arencibia, who was the only Blue Jays batter to reach base in the game. Arencibia was erased on a double-play, so Verlander faced the minimum 27 batters for the game.[3] Verlander became the second Tigers pitcher since Virgil Trucks, and the 30th pitcher in the history of baseball, to throw multiple no-hitters. On his next start, against the Kansas City Royals on May 13, Verlander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before surrendering a triple. Altogether, he pitched 15⅔ consecutive no-hit innings, spread over three starts.

On June 14, Verlander took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. He pitched 7⅓ innings until he gave up a base hit to Cleveland's Orlando Cabrera. Verlander ended up with a complete game shutout allowing two hits. In his next start on June 19, he threw another complete game allowing a solo home run to Ty Wigginton.[11] On June 25, he recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts against Arizona.[12] Verlander was selected to his fourth AL All-Star team, but he was unable to participate in the game due to the scheduling of his starts.

On July 31, Verlander took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before surrendering a single to Maicer Izturis. He walked two and struck out nine. On August 11, Verlander won his 100th major league game against the Cleveland Indians. A victory on August 27 made Verlander the first Tiger since Bill Gullickson in 1991 to win 20 games, and the first Major League pitcher since Curt Schilling in 2002 to reach 20 wins before the end of August.[13]

Verlander in 2011

By the end of the season, Verlander had won the Triple Crown of pitching in the AL, leading the league in wins (24), strikeouts (250; tied for sixth most in Tigers history) and ERA (2.40).[14] Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw clinched the NL Triple Crown earlier in the week, making it the first since 1924 that a season featured a Triple Crown pitcher in both leagues. Verlander also led the AL in innings pitched (251) and win-loss percentage (.828; sixth-best in Tigers history).[15] Throughout the season, he never had an outing in which he threw fewer than six innings or 100 pitches. Through 2011, Verlander had the best career strikeouts/9 innings percentage in Tigers history (8.3), and the second-best career win–loss percentage (.652; also the fourth-best percentage of all active pitchers).[15][16]

In 2011, Verlander received the AL Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award, Sporting News Player of the Year Award, a Players Choice Award for Player the Year and Most Outstanding American League pitcher, and a USA Today American League Cy Young. Verlander was named the cover athlete of Major League Baseball 2K12.[17]

Verlander won both the 2011 AL Cy Young Award and the AL MVP Award. He was the first pitcher to claim an AL MVP Award since Dennis Eckersley in 1992, the first starting pitcher to do so since Roger Clemens in 1986, and the third Tiger starter to do so in franchise history, joining Denny McLain (1968) and Hal Newhouser (1944, 1945). Verlander unanimously won the 2011 AL Cy Young Award,[18] but won the AL MVP in a much closer vote. Verlander edged out Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury, 280 points to 242 points, while collecting 13 of 28 first-place votes.[19] He became the first pitcher in baseball history to win the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards in his career.[20]


On May 18, Verlander took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates before giving up a one-out single in a 6–0 victory. It was his first career complete game one-hitter, his 16th complete game overall, and sixth career shutout. Verlander, who struck out 12 in the game, was hitting the upper-90s and 100 mph (160 km/h) into the eighth inning.[21]

Verlander was named to the American League team roster and AL starting pitcher[22] in the All-Star Game. Verlander was joined by teammates Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, the former voted as a starter.[23] At the All-Star break, Verlander had a 9–5 record and a 2.58 ERA in 18 games, and was leading the AL in innings pitched (132⅔), strikeouts (128) and complete games (five). In a forgettable All-Star game, he pitched one inning and gave up five runs. Verlander finished the 2012 regular season with a 17–8 record. He ranked first in the American League in innings pitched (238 13), strikeouts (239) and complete games (six),[24] while also ranking second in ERA (2.64).

In the 2012 ALDS against the Oakland Athletics, Verlander started Game 1 and won a 3–1 decision. In the deciding fifth game of the series, he pitched a complete-game shutout allowing four hits as the Tigers won 6–0 and advanced to the 2012 ALCS. The victory marked the first time in MLB history that a pitcher recorded more than 10 strikeouts in a winner-take-all postseason shutout.[25] Verlander's 22 strikeouts in the series set a record for an ALDS.[26]

Verlander made his only appearance in the 2012 ALCS in Game 3 against the New York Yankees. He earned a 2–1 win, blanking the Yankees hitters on two hits through eight innings (running his 2012 postseason scoreless streak to 24 innings) before surrendering a leadoff home run in the ninth inning to Eduardo Núñez.

He pitched Game 1 of the 2012 World Series against the San Francisco Giants and gave up five earned runs in four innings pitched, including giving up two home runs to eventual World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval.

Verlander finished second to David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays in a close AL Cy Young Award race. Verlander collected 149 points (12 first-place votes) to Price's 153 points (13 first-place votes).[27] Verlander won (tie with David Price) his second consecutive AL Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award.


Prior to the 2013 season, Verlander and the Tigers reached an agreement on a seven-year, $180 million contract, with a $22 million vesting option for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young Award voting in 2019. This contract made him the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history.[28]

Verlander made his sixth-consecutive Opening Day start for the Tigers against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis and won 4–2.[29] In a May 11 game against the Cleveland Indians, Verlander recorded his 1,500th career strikeout.[30]

Verlander was selected as a reserve pitcher for the American League All-Star team by his manager, Jim Leyland, who managed the 2013 AL team. It was Verlander's sixth All-Star selection, but due to him starting a game on July 14 for the Tigers, he was declared unavailable for the July 16 All-Star game. Entering the All-Star break, Verlander had a 10–6 record, 125 strikeouts and a 3.50 ERA.[31]

Verlander finished the 2013 regular season with a 13–12 record, a 3.46 ERA, and 217 strikeouts. His 21813 innings pitched were the lowest total since his 2008 season.

In Game 2 of the 2013 ALDS, Verlander struck out 11 Oakland Athletics hitters in seven shutout innings. Verlander did not get the win as the Tigers lost the game, 1–0, in the bottom of the ninth inning. In Game 5 of the same series, Verlander pitched eight shutout innings with 10 strikeouts in a 3–0 victory, taking a no-hitter into the 7th inning. The win sent the Tigers to the American League Championship Series for the third consecutive year.[32] Verlander defeated the Athletics in Game 5 of the ALDS for the second straight season and is one of four starting pitchers in Major League history to have multiple wins in elimination postseason games, joining Bob Gibson, Chris Carpenter and Matt Cain.[33]

Verlander has thrown 30 consecutive scoreless innings in the postseason against the Athletics, a major league record for a pitcher versus one team, surpassing Christy Mathewson's 28 scoreless innings against the Philadelphia Athletics from 1905–11. Verlander is the second pitcher in Major League history with 10 or more strikeouts and zero runs allowed in back-to-back postseason games, joining Sandy Koufax in Games 5 and 7 of the 1965 World Series.[33]

In Game 3 of the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, Verlander threw 6 13 scoreless innings (running his 2013 postseason scoreless streak to 21 13 innings) before surrendering a solo home run to Mike Napoli in the seventh. Despite giving up only that one run and striking out ten batters in eight innings, Verlander lost a 1–0 decision.

The eventual World Series champ Red Sox eliminated the Tigers in six ALCS games. In the 2013 postseason, Verlander was 1–1 with a 0.39 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 23 postseason innings. The Tiger offense was shut out in two of his three starts.


On January 9, 2014, Verlander underwent core muscle surgery. The Tigers projected that Verlander might miss opening day in the aftermath of his surgery but he eventually recovered just in time for when pitchers and catchers reported to training camp in February, 2014.[34] On March 16, Tiger manager Brad Ausmus announced that Verlander would make his seventh consecutive opening-day start on March 31.[35] On April 12, Verlander got the first two hits of his major league career during a 6–2 road win over the San Diego Padres. This snapped a career 0-for-26 string.[36]

Verlander struggled in the first half of 2014. His strikeouts were down to 6.8 per nine innings pitched, opposed to an average of 9.2 over the last five years.[37] His ERA and WHIP in the season's first half were also elevated to 4.71 and 1.49 respectively.[38] Verlander was not named to the AL All-Star team for the first time since 2008, snapping a streak of five straight appearances.[39]

On August 11, in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Verlander allowed five runs, four earned, on four hits in only one inning. Verlander left the game with right shoulder soreness, in his shortest outing of his career. His previous shortest outing was 113 innings in 2008.[40][41] Verlander would miss his next start, the first time that had occurred in his career.

Justin fared somewhat better in the second half of 2014. His season ERA and WHIP dropped to 4.54 and 1.398, respectively. He won his final three decisions to finish with a 15–12 record, and the Tigers won the game in 6 of his last 8 starts.[42] Justin's strikeout rate remained low, however, as he finished with 159 strikeouts and a 6.9 K/9 IP rate, both the lowest since his 2006 rookie season.


Verlander started the 2015 season on the disabled list due to a right triceps strain, ending his streak of seven consecutive opening day starts for the Tigers. This marks the first time Verlander has been placed on the DL in his career, following 298 career starts and 1,978 innings pitched.[43][44] Verlander has thrown more pitches than any other pitcher since his rookie season in 2006, with 32,535 pitches in the regular season, and 1,688 pitches in the postseason.[45]

On May 31, Verlander was sent to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens for a rehab assignment. It was his first time ever pitching for the Mud Hens, having gone straight from Double-A to the major leagues in 2005. He threw 79 pitches, 50 for strikes, allowing six hits and two walks in 2 23 innings.[46] He fared better in his second rehab start on June 6, lasting 5 23 innings and throwing 93 pitches (69 for strikes). He gave up just one unearned run on four hits and no walks while striking out nine batters.[47] Verlander made his season debut with the Tigers on June 13 against the Cleveland Indians. He pitched five innings, giving up two runs on three hits and two walks, while striking out two. He left the game with a 3–2 lead, but got a no-decision as the Indians came back against the Tiger bullpen to win the game.[48]

On August 26, Verlander came within three outs of his third career no-hitter before allowing a double to Chris Iannetta, the first batter in the ninth inning. He finished the game with one hit, two walks, and nine strikeouts in a 5–0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This was his seventh career complete game shutout, and second career complete game one-hitter.[49] Verlander finished 2015 with a 5–8 record in 20 starts, but his other stats were a considerable improvement over the previous season. He had a 3.38 ERA and 1.088 WHIP. His walk rate dropped to 2.2, while his strikeout rate inched back up to 7.6.


On May 8, Verlander recorded his 1,981st strikeout in his Tiger career, surpassing Jack Morris for second place on the list of all-time Tiger strikeout leaders. He only trails Mickey Lolich, who had 2,679 strikeouts as a Tiger.[50][51] On May 18, Verlander fanned Eddie Rosario of the Twins for his 2,000th career strikeout, becoming just the second Tigers pitcher to reach the milestone, following Lolich.[52] Verlander went into the 2016 All-Star break with an 8–6 record, 4.07 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 120 strikeouts in 117 13 innings (9.2 K/9).

Verlander was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for July. Verlander was 4–0 with a 1.69 ERA in six July starts, holding opposing hitters a .171 average and striking out 48 batters in 42 23 innings. Among qualifying starters in the AL (minimum 28.0 innings pitched), Verlander finished July first in strikeouts, tied for first in innings pitched, third in ERA and tied for third in wins. Verlander allowed just 26 hits in his 42 23 July innings, and had a 0.891 WHIP.[53] On September 27, Verlander struck out 12 Cleveland Indians batters to give him a career-high eight games this season in which he totaled 10 or more strikeouts.[54] Verlander was among the best starters in the majors after the 2016 All-Star Break. From July 15 on, Justin complied an 8-3 record, 1.96 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 134 strikeouts in 110 13 innings. In his three losses, the Tigers scored a total of two runs.

Verlander finished the 2016 season with a 16–9 record, while recording 254 strikeouts to lead the American League for the fourth time in his career. He also finished first in the AL with a 1.00 WHIP, and his 3.04 ERA ranked second. His strikeout rate of 10.0 per 9 IP was the second best of his career, trailing only the 10.1/9 rate posted in 2009. Verlander joined Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens as the only three American League pitchers in history to strike out 250 or more batters in a season after turning 33 years old. Verlander's 26 quality starts were tied for the AL lead (with former Tiger Rick Porcello).[55] Following the season, Verlander was named a Gold Glove Award finalist at pitcher, along with R.A. Dickey and Dallas Keuchel. Verlander's five Defensive Runs Saved tied him for fourth among AL pitchers, as did his 29 assists. His 6.61 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) led all AL pitchers.[56] Verlander won his third Tiger of the Year award, as awarded by the Detroit Chapter of the BBWAA.[57]

Following the season, Verlander was announced by the BBWAA as a finalist for the American League Cy Young Award, along with Corey Kluber and Rick Porcello.[58] Verlander finished second in Cy Young voting, losing to Porcello by five points, 132–137, in what was the second-closest vote in history (to the 2012 AL Cy Young race Verlander lost). Verlander received 14 first-place votes, to Porcello's eight first-place votes, but Verlander was left off two ballots. It marked the third time in history and first in the AL that a pitcher won the Cy Young Award without receiving the most first-place votes.[59]

Personal life

Verlander's younger brother, Ben Verlander, also plays for the Tigers organization as an outfielder. They played one game together during spring training.[60]

Verlander started dating model-actress Kate Upton in late 2011, and in 2016 the couple got engaged.[61] In the 2014 iCloud leaks of celebrity photos, many of Verlander's personal pictures, which included nude pictures of both himself and Upton, as well as other women, were leaked online.[62]

Pitching style

Verlander throws four above average pitches: a hard four-seam fastball anywhere from 92-97 mph on average (topping out at over 100 mph earlier in his career), a slider in the low-to-mid 80s, a curveball at 78–81, and a circle changeup at 85–88 mph. Verlander tends to throw his slider only to right-handed hitters and his changeup only to left-handed hitters. He frequently uses his devastating 12–6 curveball with two strikes on the hitter.[63]

Verlander is known for his unusual ability to "add" and "subtract" from his fastball velocity at any point in the game, giving him the ability to throw 100 mph or higher even in the late innings of games. This is despite the fact that he has thrown the most pitches in the major leagues since the beginning of the 2008 season.[64] Verlander's average fastball velocity with no strikes is 94.7 mph, while with two strikes it is 97.0 mph.[63] His power pitching frequently leads to high strikeout totals. In 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2016, he led the American League in strikeouts (leading all of major league baseball in 2009, 2011 and 2012),[65] and he has fanned almost 2,200 batters in his career.

Awards and accolades

  • 2006 American League Rookie of the Year
  • 2006 MLB Players Choice AL Outstanding Rookie
  • 2006 Tigers Rookie of the Year award from the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association
  • American League Rookie of the Month (May 2006)
  • American League Pitcher of the Month (May 2009, June 2011, September 2012, July 2016)
  • American League Player of the Week (May 22–28, 2006; June 11–17, 2007; May 2–8, 2011; June 13–19, 2011; September 12–18, 2011)
  • 7th in 2006 American League Cy Young Award voting (the highest of any rookie pitcher)
  • 5th in 2007 American League Cy Young Award voting
  • 15th in 2006 American League MVP voting (the highest of any rookie and second highest of any pitcher – Johan Santana was 7th)
  • Named to 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 American League All-Star Teams
  • Became first Tigers pitcher since Denny McLain in 1968 (31–6, .838) to lead the American League in winning percentage and qualify for an ERA title (18–6, .750) in 2007. He did it again in 2011 (24-5, .828).
  • Only pitcher in Major League history to win Rookie of the Year, start in a World Series game, throw a no-hitter, and be an All-Star in his first two seasons[66]
  • Became the first Major League starter in 24 years to load the bases with nobody out in the ninth inning or later and get out of it without allowing a run when he pulled off the feat July 24, 2009. Then-Mariners hurler Mike Moore was the last to do it, on September 16, 1985.[67]
  • 2009 Tiger of the Year[68]
  • Third in 2009 American League Cy Young Award voting
  • One of only two players to win the Rookie of the Year Award, Cy Young Award, and the MVP Award; the other is Don Newcombe
  • Won AL pitching Triple Crown in 2011
  • 2011 AL Cy Young Award (unanimous choice)
  • 2011 MLB Players Choice AL Outstanding Pitcher
  • 2011 AL MVP
  • 2011 MLB Players Choice Player of the Year
  • 2011 Tiger of the Year
  • Major League Baseball 2K12 cover athlete
  • 2012 AL Cy Young Award runner-up
  • 2016 Tiger of the Year
  • 2016 AL Cy Young Award runner-up

See also


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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Justin Verlander.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Huston Street
Sporting News AL Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by
Dustin Pedroia
Preceded by
Huston Street
Baseball America Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by
Ryan Braun
Preceded by
Huston Street
Players Choice AL Most Outstanding Rookie
Succeeded by
Dustin Pedroia
Preceded by
Mark Buehrle
Francisco Liriano
No-hitter pitcher
June 12, 2007
May 7, 2011
Succeeded by
Clay Buchholz
Ervin Santana
Preceded by
Francisco Liriano
American League Winning Percentage Champion
Succeeded by
Cliff Lee
Preceded by
Zach Greinke
American League Pitcher of the Month
May 2009
Succeeded by
Félix Hernández
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