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Verlander was 18-6 in his second season and made the All-Star team. Only Dwight Gooden, who won 41 games for the New York Mets during the 1984-85 seasons, won more games among pitchers in their first two full seasons since 1970.
After struggling two years ago with an 11-17 record, Verlander bounced back with a sensational season.
He led the majors with 269 strikeouts, 240 innings pitched and 35 starts in 2009. His 19 wins matched the top total in both leagues.
Former teammate Kenny Rogers said Verlander's wicked fastball, wildly breaking curve and knee-buckling changeup give him an assortment of pitches that reminded him only of Nolan Ryan.
"He's only going to get better and that's scary for other teams," Rogers has said.
Minnesota Twins outfielder Delmon Young played with Verlander in the 2005 All-Star Futures Game and knows him off the field because his brother, Dmitri, played in Detroit. They're friendly, but that doesn't mean Young enjoys facing Verlander.
"It's not fun facing him when a guy can uncork a fastball at 101 (mph) and drop a dirty split-fingered changeup, and then a hammer, a curveball, that's really tough to hit," Young once said. "The guy has amazing tools. He knows how to pitch, and he's only going to get better.
"Just stay healthy, and this guy can win multiple Cy Youngs."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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