Astros vs. Phillies: Now, the wait is over for Astros starter Justin Verlander and the World Series. This was his first World Series victory in nine career appearances spanning 16 years and three decades. Even while wins and losses aren’t necessarily the most telling indicators of a pitcher’s success, he deserved every victory on his record.
In any case, that’s it.
Verlander didn’t have his best stuff and we’ll get to why in a bit, but he slugged through five innings and helped the Astros to a 3-1 win, giving them a 3-2 lead in the World Series and putting them on the edge of a second championship in six years.
When asked about Verlander before Game 5 of the 2022 World Series, Astros manager Dusty Baker expressed full faith in his 39-year-old ace.
Everyone is wondering, “Is he being kept under close supervision?” No, he’s not on a leash,” Baker clarified. I mean, he’s Justin Verlander, right?
It’s one thing to find fault with his actions. Justin Verlander has talent that will last for decades. He deserves to be inducted into the Hall of Fame immediately. He will very surely win his third Cy Young Award at the end of the season and he probably should have won at least one more. If he wins the AL Cy Young Award in 2022, though, he will join the ranks of just Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and Steve Carlton.
Justin Verlander on the other hand has not been that man in the World Series. In his career, Verlander had already made eight starts in the World Series prior to Game 5. He had a record of 0-6 and his earned run average was 6.07. With that ERA, he had the worst World Series ERA of any pitcher who had ever thrown at least 30 innings in a World Series game.
He might have simply gone out and dominated to end the story. He could have easily given up, gotten shelled and cemented the notion that he is incapable of delivering when it matters most. It leaned heavily toward the more extreme of the two extremes but was still a distinct middle ground.
In other words, he wasn’t the dominant one. Verlander threw 94 pitches across five innings, allowing four hits and four walks. After Kyle Schwarber’s leadoff home run in the second inning, the Phillies had a full complement of runners on base.
After the game, Verlander addressed the home run by Schwarber, saying he would move on and concentrate on the rest of the game.
And you can just sort of be like, “OK, I’ve given up a leadoff home run before, let me bear down and it’s not going to be predictive of what’s going to happen the rest of the game.”
Following his own advice, Verlander kept at it and gave it his all. There was no magic involved here and no one just vanished.
Oh and what about the rest of Baker’s comment from the beginning of the game?
“He always manages to find a way out while everyone else fails.”
Astros vs. Phillies: In Game 5, Verlander showed his management he was right about this
As was mentioned, the volume of traffic was significantly higher than either Baker or Verlander had anticipated. Following the first-inning home run he walked Bryce Harper with two outs and then induced Nick Castellanos to hit a routine flyout. With the bases loaded and one out in the second, he struck out Rhys Hoskins.
For the third out, he got a straightforward flyout from Bryson Stott, but he still left two runners on. In the fourth, he settled in and got a routine grounder before striking out two batters. The first two batters he saw in the fifth inning were both struck out, and he continued to get stronger and faster as the game progressed, a characteristic trait of Vintage Verlander, who we’d see pounding 98 mph in the eighth.
In spite of the fact that his performance was not up to his usual standards, Verlander gave the Astros the start they required in a game that could prove to be decisive. The pressure of the situation did not make him flinch. He performed admirably in the spotlight, even with runners on base for most of the game. Even when he wasn’t at his best, he still came through with some big pitches.
“It was a fight,” Baker said afterward. His pitch count went up and he ran out of gas early, but it was as far as we felt comfortable pushing him. For his benefit, we took the lead. He got into some problems there, and I recall that my teammate Tommy John used to tell me that a good pitcher can get out of trouble twice, a great pitcher can get out of trouble three times, and a so-so pitcher can get out of trouble once.
As a result, the ace has now won a World Series. What was the team’s ERA in the World Series? He has moved out of his last position. He hammered away at it until he no longer met the criteria for that distinction (it is now Carl Erskine from the Jackie Robinson-era Brooklyn Dodgers at 5.83; Verlander sits at 5.63).
Maybe the demons have been cast out. Now he can finally relax because the weight of that monkey has been lifted from his shoulders. This year’s World Series was won by Justin Verlander. In the next game or two, he might have two World Series rings. His record is already virtually flawless but this fixes a major flaw that prevented him from being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
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