Justin Verlander expects better success in third postseason appearance

DETROIT - Justin Verlander's dominance in the regular season is well-documented.

The reigning American League Cy Young and MVP winner is regarded as one of the best pitchers in baseball. But his success in the postseason has been sporadic.

In two playoff appearances with the Detroit Tigers, the team's Game 1 starter has a 3-3 record with a 5.57 ERA.

The most concerning factor in the 29-year old's October outings has been opponent's success in early innings. In four starts last fall, the Tigers ace relinquished six runs to opponents in the first two innings.

"Certainly Justin's been through it before now. He's grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years," manager Jim Leyland said Friday.

Verlander's poise is something he openly talks about after starts. Throwing too hard to impress fans is something he pointed to in July at the MLB All-Star Game.

Following his record-setting campaign in 2011, Verlander's 2012 season faced more up's and down's. He's learned to temper his excitement.

"I think when you try to do extra stuff...you find you get a little anxious and nervous," he said.

Despite his five years of experience before last season's playoff run, the right-hander had eerily similar numbers to his 2006 statistics as a rookie in the postseason.

In 21.2 innings in 2006, he gave up 14 earned runs and recorded 23 strikeouts and 10 walks. Last year, in 20.1 innings, he was hit for 12 earned runs, while chalking up 25 strikeouts and 10 walks.

Leyland has confidence the last year has helped Verlander.

"I think he'll be pumped up, but I think he'll be able to channel that. I don't expect that to be an issue."

Playing in front of the home crowd will be part of keeping a normal routine, according the the starter.

"I'm just going to try to maintain what I've been doing, to keep myself normal as possible."

Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter at WXYZ. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli .

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