DETROIT - Justin Verlander's introduction to postseason baseball six years ago left him dazzled and exhausted.
Worn down toward the end of his rookie season, he made his playoff debut at Yankee Stadium. A couple weeks later, he was on the mound for Game 1 of the World Series.
"It was such a whirlwind, really, that entire season. I remember standing on the mound in old Yankee Stadium ... and growing up as a kid you see all of the postseason games and all of the magic that had happened in that stadium, and it was kind of a surreal moment for me," the Detroit ace said.
"I feel like I have pitched in big games now and understand what my body's going to be going through and what my mind is going to be going through and I am able to rein it in a little more and use it more to my advantage."
Verlander is now 29 and he returns to the Fall Classic a more mature pitcher than he was in 2006. His last two seasons have been nothing short of phenomenal, and now he's adding another line to his resume with the first truly outstanding postseason stretch of his career.
In three playoff starts against Oakland and the New York Yankees, he's allowed all of two runs- a pair of harmless solo homers that did little to slow Detroit's march to the American League pennant.
"He's learned to handle these situations. He's learned how to stay pretty calm throughout the game in these big-game situations," manager Jim Leyland said.
The 6-foot-5 right-hander can make pitching
"I think you can help to build your natural ability," said Verlander. "I think a lot of the work I do in the offseason in my lower half and my core allows me to stay strong throughout the game so that I don't start to break down when I get to 100 pitches."