1.  Justin Verlander was mediocre in the early parts of last season, but eventually straightened himself out and finished strong.  We'll have to see if he can pull an even bigger turnaround this season.

Last night, Verlander was pitching well through five innings but he got shelled in the sixth.  The game was tied 1-1 entering that inning, but he gave up five hits, two walks and six runs. Verlander tried to increase his velocity, and was able to get it up to 98 mph.  However, that was when he lost his command and walked Adrian Nieto and Adam Eaton back-to-back.  Then, Gordon Beckham lined a sharp single on a first pitch fastball that was right down the middle.  Here are the highlights from that miserable inningDetroit eventually lost the game 8-2.

JV's velocity and strikeout rate have steadily decreased over the past four seasons.  In 2009, Verlander's average fastball velocity was 95.6 mph, and this year it is all the way down to 92.4.  In 2010, he struck out 25.8% of the batters he faced.  This year, it is all the way down to 16.1%.  Like I said, there has been a consistent decline in both of these numbers.  He has now given up 31 runs in his last 37.2 innings.

He led the league in innings pitched three times between 2009 and 2012, and as they say, there are only so many bullets in the gun.  I am not counting him out this season, but the massive contract extension that will pay him highly until 2019 is looking worse by the start.

2. Hockey is a cruel game that often makes no sense.  In game three of the Stanley Cup Finals the Rangers outshot the Kings 32-15, but saw two goals go in off of their own defenders on the way to a 3-0 loss.

Last night, the Kings were all over the Rangers for most of the game.  LA outshot NY 41-19, but could just not put the puck across the goal line enough to win the game.  Granted, they came extremely close to putting the puck past the goal line a couple times:

The Rangers stayed alive with a 2-1 win. Game six is Friday night at eight.

3. The Miami Heat are preparing for game four of the NBA Finals tonight, but their front office is already trying to plan their offseason.  According to ESPN.com, Miami is prepared to take a run at Carmello Anthony when he becomes a free agent.  It would require deals that are below market value for Anthony, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.  The latter three were willing to do that last time they were free agents, so we will see what their motivations are when this summer rolls around.

4. Yoenis Cespedes did it again.  Two nights ago, he made an incredible throw to nab Howie Kendrick at the plateLast night, he victimized Albert Pujols on the basepaths.

5.  Also in the big leagues, where would the Yankees be without Masahiro Tanaka?  He threw his second career complete game last night, propelling the Yankees to a 4-2 win.  His ERA now sits at 2.02.

The Nationals finished off a semi-surprising sweep of the San Francisco Giants.  There were a few great starting pitching performances, including a complete game by Yu Darvish and 12 K's from Johnny Cueto.


Steve Miller is on-air from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. producing ‘Mad Dog in the Morning’ on The Game 730 AM.  Follow him on Twitter @SteveMilllerWVFN.