Verlander named Astros' ALDS Game 1 starter vs. M's

October 9th, 2022

HOUSTON -- Astros manager Dusty Baker, to no one’s surprise, said Saturday that veteran right-hander will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park against the Mariners, who beat the Blue Jays on Saturday to sweep their Wild Card Series.

This will be Verlander’s first playoff action since allowing seven runs and 12 hits in 11 innings in two starts -- both losses -- in the 2019 World Series. He made one start in the 2020 regular season before injuring his elbow, which led to Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2021 season.

Baker said the remainder of the rotation will depend on the matchup in the ALDS. Lefty and veteran right-hander are likely to start Games 2 and 3, in some order.

“We don’t want to solidify it because it could change by who we play,” Baker said.

In six starts against the Mariners this year, Verlander went 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA. The Astros as a whole went 12-7 vs. Seattle, including winning six of their last seven matchups, though the division rivals haven't faced one another since July 31.

Verlander is 14-11 with a 3.40 ERA in 31 career postseason games (30 starts). He’s thrown 187 2/3 career innings in the playoffs, which is the second-most among active players, trailing only Clayton Kershaw (189). Verlander is 7-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 15 postseason games (14 starts) since joining the Astros in 2017. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 2017 AL Championship Series against the Yankees.

Verlander (18-4), making his 28th and final start of the season Wednesday, struck out 10 batters and walked one in five hitless innings, lowering his ERA to 1.75, in the Astros’ 10-0 win over the Phillies.

The 1.75 ERA is the lowest for a qualified AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez had a 1.74 ERA in 2000, and gives Verlander his second ERA title. If he wins the Cy Young -- which will be announced in November -- it will be his third, adding to those he won in '11 with the Tigers and '19 with the Astros.

“I think I’m probably the least surprised person [that] I’m here,” he said. “Everybody wants to ask me, ‘How amazed are you?’ For me, I’m not. I know how hard I worked, I know how good I felt, I know how good the rehab went, I know how good my body felt at the end of the season. To me, this was maybe not what was supposed to happen, but what I expected to happen.”

Verlander threw 175 innings this year, which was the result of working in a six-man rotation and a stint on the injured list with a calf injury. He posted a 0.83 WHIP and a .186 opponent ERA, which led the AL. He didn’t allow a homer in his last 58 2/3 innings.