Win or lose tonight, the move for Justin Verlander was needed to help the Astros win the World Series.
According to Justin Verlander, his debut with the Houston Astros tonight will be “nerve-wracking,” and he would be “nervous.” While it is better for him to make his debut on the road away from the high expectations of Astros fans, he faces a tough team in the Mariners. The good thing about the acquisition of Verlander is that he was not brought in to save the season, but to be another piece.
The Mariners and Tigers are not in the same division. They don’t play each other more than once or twice a year. Verlander has pitched twice this year versus the Mariners with great numbers. Versus the Mariners, he has pitched 12 2/3 innings with a 2.13 ERA with 19 strikeouts. His 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings rate is tied for most this year with the Rockies.
Troubles at Safeco?
The one red flag is that he struggled in his one start at Safeco Field this year, only lasting 5 2/3 innings. He did strike out 11 hitters but allowed three earned runs on four hits with no homers. In his fifth start of the season at Comerica Park versus the Mariners, he pitched seven innings allowing one unearned run. He struck out eight hitters to lower his ERA to 4.60 at the time.
Early in the season, the Indians lit up Verlander for nine runs in four innings pitched. His home start versus the Mariners was key to him getting back on track, limiting the Indians to two runs the next time out. His career stats versus the Mariners look promising at 10-8 with a 3.15 ERA. Verlander has 149 career strikeouts in 151 1/3 innings versus Seattle.
Verlander was needed.
While Astros fans have waited for tonight’s debut of Verlander in an Astros uniform, we can’t call him a bust if he struggles tonight. He is doing something that he hasn’t done since his MLB debut. He will be starting for a new team. Verlander has been a Tiger for his entire career. He has spent the past few days getting to know the Astros way.
Verlander is what the Astros needed to put another imposing pitcher in the rotation. Opposing teams will be more afraid of Verlander versus Charlie Morton or Mike Fiers. No matter how Verlander performs tonight, the move to acquire him seemed to restart the team’s mojo. The team is on a five game winning streak, trying to stay ahead of the Indians on a 12 game win streak. Let’s go for six in a row.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***