3) Single season strikeouts per nine innings pitched, Rank # 3
It might come as no surprise that in 2018 and 2019 the Astros enjoyed an extremely rare 1-2 punch with Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander at the top of the starting rotation.
Of all Astros pitchers over the franchise’s 60-year history, Gerrit Cole holds the record with 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings in 2019.
Nevertheless, Verlander holds third and fourth place with his 2018 and ’19 campaigns. Verlander represents the only other Astro besides Cole to average more than 12 strikeouts per nine innings over the course of a single season.
4) Single season strikeouts as an Astro, Rank # 5
When Cole dominated in Houston, he achieved the highest single season strikeout total in franchise history with 326. But only four other times has an Astros hurler reached the 300-strikeout milestone—and Justin Verlander is one of them.
In 2019, Verlander finished with exactly 300 strikeouts. In rarified air, the only other Astros besides Cole and Verlander to have reached the 300-strikeout club are J.R. Richard and Mike Scott.
Imagine a 2022 playoff rotation of Verlander, McCullers, Urquidy, Valdez—and possibly Zack Greinke. The Astros window might be closing fast with looming free agency for impact players, but there still remains an opportunity with the ’22 roster to do significant damage in the postseason.
Time will tell how Verlander’s body holds up following the latest surgery, but his eye on a chance for the Hall of Fame—as well as another World Series title—should keep him especially motivated to give his best for Houston’s faithful. Now, about that never-ending lockout…