Astros starter Justin Verlander just makes pitching look so easy!
It feels like the trade deadline all over again. Not because we are about to make a trade, but because we keep writing about Justin Verlander. Back then, the rumors kept surfacing that the Astros were looking at him, but it didn’t happen. Fortunately, Verlander found his way to Houston before the August 31st deadline.
According to David Fleming of ESPN, the Astros were aggressive to get Verlander due to Hurricane Harvey. Fans stood by the team during the process, so they wanted to repay the fans who were devastated by flood water. No, Verlander won’t help them rebuild their lives, but it gave the town some excitement.
As Verlander makes his last regular season start versus the Rangers this week, we can look back and forward if how good Verlander is.
How does he compare to 1998 version of Randy Johnson?
After four starts, Verlander couldn’t have performed better. According to ESPN, Verlander is the fourth pitcher MLB history to win the first four starts after a trade. Not even the great Randy Johnson make that claim after his first four starts with the Astros in 1998. Johnson lost his fourth game in 1998 only lasting five innings.
While Verlander is dominating quite like Johnson did, he’s just a notch below. This is why people were calling for the Astros to trade for Verlander despite the poor start to the season. Sometimes it only takes a change of scenery to get an ace back on track.
Johnson (1998): 3-1, 30 IP, 1.50 ERA, 36 strikeouts.
Verlander (2017): 4-0, 28 IP, 0.64 ERA, 32 strikeouts.
Is Verlander the Astros ace?
Verlander is becoming the team ace very quickly, plus he will be around for the next two seasons as well. Other than Dallas Keuchel in 2015 and parts of 2017, we haven’t had a pitcher you can count on going deep like Verlander since Roy Oswalt. Verlander also can bring a Roger Clemens like impact, the sky is the limit.
The thing that is the most amazing about Verlander is how easy he makes pitching look. In his four starts with the Astros, he has only allowed one hit twice. Verlander has yet to not finish an inning he started. On the season, Verlander has lowered his ERA to 3.38 with 208 strikeouts in 200 innings.
While Keuchel is great, Verlander has upped his game is his last 13 starts. He is 9-4 with an 1.80 ERA while striking out 105 hitters in 90 innings pitched. Verlander has the rare ability to get better deep into games and just makes it look easy. Last year Verlander finished second to Rick Porcello, he’s still got it!
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***