Heading into Game 6, Justin Verlander has not won a World Series matchup during his career. Verlander has started six games but is just 0-5 with a 5.73 ERA in those trips to the mound, per Sports Illustrated.
He has started the most World Series games without gaining a victory. Astros manager A.J. Hinch hopes that changes against the Nationals as the ace pitcher has a chance to not only win his first World Series game but take home another championship.
“This would be a nice little bullet point on a résumé that’s headed towards Cooperstown,” Hinch told MLB.com. “If he can add a season-clinching, World Series-clinching win, count me in.”
Verlander had a shaky start for the Astros in Game 2 before gaining his footing to pitch six innings. The Astros pitcher had four earned runs, seven hits and six strikeouts in the team’s 12-3 loss to the Nationals. After the game, Verlander admitted he wanted another opportunity and noted the Nationals were an underrated team despite making the World Series.
“I’d like to win a couple,” Verlander explained to Sports Illustrated. “Hopefully I get another opportunity…They’re pretty dynamic top to bottom. I guess I hadn’t paid that much attention to them in the NL. But I think they’re way better than people give them credit for. Obviously those guys in the middle get a lot of headlines, but they can all hit. And they work you. They change their approach. They adjust through the middle of the game from at-bat to at-bat. It’s a grind.”
A World Series Win Is the Last Major Accomplishment Verlander Has Left
Notching a World Series victory is the last major item Verlander has left on his resume. Here is a rundown of Verlander’s accomplishments over his career, per Sports Illustrated: World Series ring, Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year, 300 strikeouts, no-hitter, MVP and a 20-win season. As SB Nation’s Theo Gerome pointed out, Verlander’s previous six World Series starts is a relatively small sample size spanning across his career in both Houston and Detroit.
Justin’s six World Series starts don’t even have that [advantage of being clustered together], coming across two separate teams, four different opponents, and fourteen seasons. In fact, his rookie season still accounts for a third of his World Season starts, since he made two appearances in Detroit’s ultimately doomed 2006 run…
And of course, even when things go well, it [win totals] doesn’t always reward the starter; for example, Verlander gets no credit for Game 2 of the 2017 World Series, which the Astros ultimately won. Verlander allowed just two hits over 6.0 innings in that one, and got nothing for it.
The Astros Are Going for Their Second Title
If Verlander is able to pull off a victory, it would mark the Astros second championship in franchise history with both happening in two of the last three years. Houston is playing in its third World Series with previous appearances in 2017 and 2005. Verlander is playing in his fourth World Series with two appearances with the Tigers (2006, 2012) and his second with the Astros (2017, 2019).