Over the last 3 years, Justin Verlander has started slowly each year, costing him a couple of 20-win seasons and a lot of Cy Young votes even with strong finishes in the last 2 years. He is more important than ever to the Tigers' postseason hopes this season, and they need him to start strong. He is facing off today against the powerful Yankees' lineup, so it's a big early season test for him.
March and April
2008: 1-4, 6.50 ERA (11-17, 4.84)
2009: 1-2, 6.75 ERA (19-9, 3.45)
2010: 1-2, 5.53 ERA (18-9, 3.37)
Update: After a strong start (for a couple of innings, anyway), he allowed a 3-run HR to Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the 3rd. It's not a good sign, but he could still emerge with a decent start if he settles down.
Update: He did settle down after the Teixeira HR, and finished up with 6 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 3 R and 8 SO. All in all, not too bad considering that all the damage came on one swing. His next start will be on the road against Baltimore, who should be improved over last year, but are still not the Yankees.