Houston Astros' Justin Verlander Takes Home Third Cy Young in Unanimous Fashion
By Alec Brown
Verlander celebrates with third Cy Young Award
Houston Astros' ace Justin Verlander has taken home his third Cy Young in his storied career, and his second (2011) in unanimous fashion, after receiving all 30 first-place votes. Verlander's teammate and Astros' co-ace Framber Valdez finished fifth on the ballot.
With the award, Verlander takes another step into rare air, joining Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Steve Carlton, Max Scherzer, Jim Palmer, Pedro Martinez, Tom Seaver, Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw as three-time winners of the award.
The 2022 was one of, if not the most, dominant seasons of Verlander's career. The right-hander led the American League in wins (18), WHIP (0.83), opponents' batting average (.186), opponents' OPS (.497) and perhaps most impressively, ERA (1.75). Verlander's 1.75 ERA was the lowest since Pedro Martinez' historic 2000 season. He could have topped the mark, but left his final regular season outing after five perfect innings in only 77 pitches, having recently returned from injury.
Injuries played quite a role in JV's 2022 narrative. Verlander's Cy Young runaway was jeopardized on August 28th, when he left after only three innings against the Orioles after suffering a calf injury. The injury itself was minor, sending him to the 15-day IL and keeping him out of the rotation for three weeks.
What was not minor was the injury Verlander returned from at the beginning of the season. Verlander missed all of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Questions loomed about what type of pitcher the Astros would get in a 39-year-old that had thrown six-innings over the last two seasons and coming off of major surgery. A dominant one is what they got.
Verlander said five starts in is when the switch flipped to realizing how dominant he could be:
""My mindset completely shifted to, 'OK, I am the pitcher I've always been. That level of pitching, when I'm healthy, has always been quite high. I didn't anticipate it ending in a Cy Young. I don't try to put those expectations on myself. I knew I had the opportunity to go out and have a wonderful season.""- Justin Verlander
A wonderful, and for that matter, storybook season it was. Verlander conquered Tommy John to become the fourth-oldest Cy Young winner, and perhaps even more meaningful, he got his first World Series win, what had been the only blemish on his otherwise spotless resume.
Attention now shifts to what uniform the free agent will be wearing next season. If this was Verlander's last season as an Astro, he went out on top.
In his time as an Astro, again cut short by injury, Verlander went 61-19 with a 2.26 ERA, a 0.833 WHIP, took home two of his three Cy Young awards, threw a third career no-hitter and won two World Series rings. Verlander's time in the navy and orange has solidified has status as a future Hall-of-Famer and given him a seat at the table in the "best pitcher of his generation" dialogue.
If this is it for the workhorse righty's time donning a 'Stros' cap, what a ride it was. Justin, congratulations on yet another accolade and thanks for all you have done for the franchise.