May 10, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
Why Justin Verlander’s looming free agency will be like no other
Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander has been unstoppable in this recent stretch of games, and that could spell trouble for the New York Yankees.
This offseason, one of the more intriguing names on the free agent market was veteran and multi-time Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery. His contract with the Houston Astros expired and he tested the open market. He even received an offer from the New York Yankees. Ultimately, he opted to stay in Houston on a one-year, $25 million deal with a player option for 2023. That move has worked out tremendously for the Astros thus far, as he is on his way to winning yet another Cy Young award.
On Thursday night, Verlander pitched six scoreless innings, where he struck out five batters and allowed just two hits in Houston’s 6-0 win over the Cleveland Guardians. That was enough to give Verlander his 15th win of the season and lower his ERA to 1.73.
Justin Verlander dominant in recent stretch of starts for Astros
But this game speaks nothing to how impressive Verlander has been the last seven games he took the mound. He has a 0.76 ERA and allowed just one run or less in all seven of those starts. Take a look at his full stats below, courtesy of FOX Sports’ Ben Verlander.
Last 7 starts for @JustinVerlander:
0.76 ERA / .176 OBA / 0.80 WHIP / 46-8 K-BB / 1 R or less in ALL 7
— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) August 5, 2022
Remember the player option we mentioned earlier for next season. Well, as a result of his latest outing, he has reached the required 130.0 innings pitched to trigger the option.
Verlander now leads the league with 15 wins, a .833 winning percentage, a 1.73 ERA, a 221 ERA+, and a 1.6 walks per nine innings rating through 20 starts.
If Verlander keeps it up for the remainder of the regular-season, he is not only going to help his case to win a third Cy Young award, but he could very well put the Astros over the edge as World Series favorites. That, and could further solidify their status as a dangerous threats to the Yankees.