In 11 regular season starts since being traded to the Houston Astros by his former Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander has compiled a perfect 9-0 record with his new club. After going 5-0 following the trade last season, Verlander then carried the Astros into the postseason in the hunt for the coveted World Series ring. Verlander himself went 4-1 in six starts. The Cy Young winner had an ERA of 2.47 and collected the ALCS MVP.
This season, 35-year-old Verlander and six other pitchers are tied for most wins with four. Verlander is second in strikeouts with 48, and second only to his teammate Gerrit Cole’s 49 strikeouts. JV’s 39.2 innings pitched is third best in the AL to two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber’s 45.1 innings and the most recent pitcher to throw a no-hitter, Oakland Athletics’ Sean Manaea, who has 43.2 innings pitched. Verlander’s 0.73 WHIP is second to Manaea’s 0.62 WHIP. Verlander’s batting average against is a minuscule .153 and is second lowest in the American League. Manaea has the lowest with a .134 BAA.
Of Verlander’s six starts this season, four of them have been shutout pitching performances. On Opening Day March 29, Verlander allowed just four hits and struck out five in a six-inning outing that earned him his first victory. Verlander’s second victory on April 9 was a seven-inning affair that included four hits allowed, nine strikeouts and just one walk. April 15 Verlander struck out 11 Texas Rangers hitters in an 8-inning one-hitter. The one hit was a home run and Verlander collected a no-decision. Verlander’s third win of the season was a six-inning outing with five strikeouts. Verlander allowed just two hits in the game and zero runs. His fourth win was a nine-strikeout performance in seven solid innings of work. Verlander allowed two runs on four hits and walked zero batters.
Verlander’s dominance with the Astros last season mirrored Hall of Famer Randy Johnson’s campaign with the club in 1998. After having gone 9-10 with his Seattle Mariners that season, Johnson then went on to post a 10-1 record with the Astros that resulted in a 19-11 record for the year. His 10 wins in 11 starts with the club included four complete game shutout victories. The Big Unit also struck out 116 batters in 84.1 innings of work. Johnson’s ERA with the Astros was the lowest of his career at 1.28. The 1998 Astros acquired Johnson in hopes of making a playoff run, but Johnson went 0-2 in the NLDS. The San Diego Padres bested the Astros 3-1 in a four-game series. Johnson’s ERA was 1.93 in his two losses. Verlander’s ERA with the Astros over the pieces of the two seasons he’s been there is 1.21.
His ability to go deep into games this deep in his career makes him one of the best workhorse pitchers in the game. The veteran is a sure Hall of Famer considering his accolades. Verlander picked up the 2006 AL Rookie of the year after going 17-9 in 30 starts. He won both the Cy Young and MVP in the American League in 2011. In that season Verlander went 24-5 and struck out 250 batters in 250 innings pitched. He led the league in each of those categories and his league lowest 2.40 ERA gave the then 28-year-old the pitching Triple Crown. He’s pitched two no-hitters and his World Series winning season last year puts Verlander up there with the greats. His career record thus far is 194-114 and he makes his next start this week.