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Justin Verlander

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Justin Brooks Verlander

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Biographical Information[edit]

Justin Verlander was chosen second overall in the 2004 amateur draft and became one of baseball's best young pitchers in first full year in the majors, on his way to a dominant career as one of the best pitchers of his generation.

Amateur career[edit]

Verlander had been a high school prospect, throwing as high as 94 mph, before illness limited his performance as a senior and scared some scouts off. Justin went on to Old Dominion University, where he went 7-6 with a 1.90 ERA as a freshman. He was named the Colonial Athletic Association Freshman of the Year and led the CAA in ERA. His 137 Ks in 114 innings were second in the association to Whitt Farr, one of the two starters to beat Verlander out for a spot on the All-Conference squad. He was named a Freshman All-American by Baseball America, joining Philip Humber and Huston Street. He was sixth in NCAA Division I in strikeouts and 11th in ERA. Verlander honed his skills prior to enterring the MLB Amateur Draft pitching Summer Collegiate Baseball for the Wilson Tobs of the Coastal Plain League. He went 1-4 with a 2.78 ERA but struck out 54 in 40 1/3 innings and allowed 22 hits (albeit with 26 walks). Baseball America rated him as the top prospect in the league that year.

In 2003, Justin fell to 7-6, 2.40, though he led the CAA with 139 K in 116 IP. He made the All-Conference team and was 8th in the nation in strikeouts. He pitched for the USA when they won the Silver Medal in the 2003 Pan American Games, losing a game to Nicaragua. As a junior, Verlander was 7-6 for the third straight year, this time with a 3.49 ERA. His strikeout rate got even better as he sat down 151 batters on strikes in 106 innings. He again was an All-Conference pick, was fifth nationally in Ks (between Humber and Wade Townsend) and third in K/9 (behind Jered Weaver and Tim Lincecum).

Contract negotiations[edit]

Scouted by Bill Buck, Verlander was picked after only Matt Bush in the 2004 draft, selected by the Detroit Tigers. Negotiations were rough and Detroit eventually gave up on signing him. Bypassing agent Mike Milchin, Justin's father Richard, a former union rep for the Communication Workers of America, contacted Detroit to handle the negotiations himself. The team praised Richard's work in enabling them to work out a contract for a $3.12 million signing bonus, a guarantee of $4.5 million and a maximum value of $5.6 million.

Minor league career[edit]

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Verlander spent one year in the minor leagues and was named Detroit's minor league player of the year. Throwing in the high 90s and using a sharp curveball, Justin was 9-2 with a 1.67 ERA for the Lakeland Tigers. He struck out 104 in 86 IP while walking only 19 in his debut at hig hclass A. Moving up to the AA Erie SeaWolves, he went 2-0 with a 0.28 ERA in seven starts, allowing only one run in 32 2/3 IP, giving up just 11 hits, 7 walks and striking out 32. Lefties hit .130 against him and right-handers .082. Baseball America rated him the #2 prospect in the Florida State League after Andy LaRoche and ahead of Lastings Milledge. They also rated him as being the top pitching prospect in the league, having the best control, best fastball and best breaking ball. His 1.29 ERA was clearly the lowest in the minor leagues, .73 lower than Ray Liotta. In the 2005 Futures Game, Verlander started for the USA and threw one scoreless inning in a 4-0 loss. He finished the year in Detroit, going 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in two starts before being shut down for the year with a tired arm.

Major League success[edit]

As a rookie with the 2006 Tigers, Verlander was a key part of the club's improvement and trip to the 2006 World Series. He regularly hit 100 mph on the radar guns that year. He went 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA (124 ERA+), 7th in the 2006 AL in wins and ERA and 5th in ERA+. This outstanding performance earned him the American League Rookie of the Year Award after the season. He had a 5.06 ERA in his lone start in the Division Series, becoming the second rookie to start for Detroit in the postseason, 98 years after Ed Summers was the first. He then gave up 3 runs in 5 1/3 innings in a Game 2 victory against the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS, then lost Game 1 of the World Series to another rookie, Anthony Reyes of the St. Louis Cardinals, the first time two rookies had faced off in game one of a World Series. Down 3 games to 1, Detroit went with Verlander again in Game 5 to try to remain alive, but he suffered another defeat to bring Detroit's World Series hopes to an end.

On June 12, Tigers, Verlander threw the second no-hitter of the season. It was the first no-hitter by a Detroit Tigers hurler since Jack Morris in 1984. Verlander fanned 12 Brewers in the first no-hitter at Comerica Park. He walked four and was aided by good defense by Magglio Ordonez to rob Corey Hart in the 7th. Amazingly, he was hitting 102 mph on the radar gun in the 9th inning. It was the sixth no-hitter in Tigers history. He had a very good year overall, ending with a record of 18-6 (the best winning percentage in the American League) and 183 strikeouts in 201 innings. He also pitched in the All-Star Game. However, things came crashing down in 2008, as the entire Tigers' roster apparently took a step backward: his ERA jumped from 3.66 to 4.84, and his record was a poor 11-17, although he did again reach 200 innings and his strikeout rate remained solid with 163 whiffs; he led the league in losses.

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He was back among the top pitchers in the American League in 2009 however, as he topped the circuit in wins with 19, innings pitched (240), starts (35) and strikeouts (269). Overall, his record was 19-9, 3.45 as he was the ace of the Tigers' staff, keeping the team in first place in the AL Central until the last day of the season, when they were caught by the Minnesota Twins. He was named to the All-Star team for the second time and finished third in the Cy Young Award vote behind Zach Greinke and Félix Hernández. He had another excellent - and very similar - season in 2010. An All-Star again, he went 18-9, 3.37 in 33 starts, striking out 219 in 224.1 innings. He was in the top 10 in the American League in a number of key categories, including wins, winning percentage, WHIP, innings pitched, strikeouts and complete games.

On April 16, 2011, Verlander was charged with what observers called "history's strangest balk", in the 5th inning of a game against Oakland. With a runner on first, he stepped off the pitching rubber to make an apparent pick-off throw, but changed his mind and instead threw side-arm to the plate, hitting batter David DeJesus in the process. Umpire John Hirschbeck discarded the hit-by-pitch, as the obvious balk took precedence. On May 7th that year, he pitched the second no-hitter of his career, shutting out the Toronto Blue Jays, 9 - 0. Only a one-out walk to J.P. Arencibia in the 8th inning, after a 12-pitch battle, kept him from a perfect game: Arencibia was erased when the next batter, Edwin Encarnacion, hit into a double play and Verlander faced the minimum 27 batters. The gem came less than a week after Francisco Liriano had pitched the first no-hitter of the season. He came close to pitching a second no-hitter in his next start on May 13, keeping the Kansas City Royals hitless into the 6th inning, and ending up giving up only 2 hits in 8 innings. His dominance over the first half got him named to the All-Star team, but he was ineligible to play because of the "Sunday starter" rule. He continued to pitch extremely well in the second half. On August 27th, he won his 8th consecutive start in a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins to become the first 20-game winner in the major leagues that year; he was the first pitcher to win 20 before the end of August since Curt Schilling in 2002, and the first to reach the mark for the Tigers since Bill Gullickson in 1990. He finished the year winning the Pitcher's Triple Crown by leading the AL in wins with a 24-5 record, ERA at 2.40 and strikeouts with 250. He was the unanimous winner of the Cy Young Award. A week later, he added the AL MVP Award to his trophy collection, becoming the first pitcher since Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and the first starter since Roger Clemens in 1986 to be so honored. He outpointed Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista and Curtis Granderson in a bunched-up vote.

On May 18, 2012, Verlander made a serious bid for a third career no-hitter, in a start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. After striking out the side in the 8th by hitting 100 mph on the radar gun, he retired the first Pirates batter in the 9th before Josh Harrison singled to break up the no-no. Verlander settled for a 6-0 one-hitter, with 12 strikeouts, which also improved his record in interleague play to 16-2. Verlander was not as successful as the AL starter in the 2012 All-Star Game, giving up 5 first-inning runs with a three-run triple by Pablo Sandoval the big blow. He became the 5th pitcher to allow at least that many runs in an inning in the All-Star Game, joining Atlee Hammaker, Roger Clemens, Sandy Consuegra and Blue Moon Odom. On August 6th, he matched a career best in striking out 14 batters in a 7-2 win over the New York Yankees; it was also the highest total by an American League pitcher that season, one more than the 13 batters Verlander had struck out in a win over the Kansas City Royals on April 16th. He was named the AL's Pitcher of the Month for September, when he went 5-1, 1.93 with 51 strikeouts as the Tigers finally managed to pull away from the Chicago White Sox and win a second consecutive AL Central title. He finished the season with a record of 17-8, 2.64 in 33 starts, leading the AL with 238 1/3 innings pitched and 239 strikeouts. Verlander was at his best in the postseason. He won Game 1 of the ALDS against the Oakland A's on October 6th, giving up a run on 3 hits in 7 innings, then threw a complete game four-hit shutout in the deciding Game 5, leading the Tigers to a 6-0 win. He struck out 11 that day, the most by a pitcher in a winner-take-all game; Sandy Koufax had held the record with 10 in the 1965 World Series. He started Game 3 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees and was again brilliant, keeping the Yankees off the scoreboard on 2 hits through 8 innings. He tired in the 9th, giving up a lead-off homer to Eduardo Nunez and gave way to Phil Coke one out later, but he had done enough to give Detroit a 2-1 win and a three games to none series lead. With the Tigers having a long rest before the start of the 2012 World Series, Verlander could come back to start Game 1 on October 24th against the San Francisco Giants, but it was far from his best performance. He gave up a 1st-inning homer to Pablo Sandoval (his nemesis from the 2012 All-Star Game), which Sandoval followed with a two-run blast in the 3rd, and he was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the top of the 5th, trailing 5-0. The Tigers lost the game, 8-3, and Verlander was charged with the loss in what was his shortest outing for reasons other than weather since 2009. He did not get a chance to pitch again as the Tigers were swept in four games. After the season, he just fell short of repeating as AL Cy Young Award winner, finishing second behind David Price with 13 first-place votes and 149 points to Price's 14 first-place votes and 153 points.

On March 29, 2013, Verlander signed a five-year contract extension with the Tigers, covering the 2015 to 2019 seasons, for $140 million; the deal also includes an option for a sixth year at $22 million. It was the biggest deal given to a pitcher in terms of average annual value, beating out the contract which Felix Hernandez had signed with the Seattle Mariners the previous year. He got off to another great start that year. On May 5th, he made a bid for his third career no-hitter, keeping the Houston Astros hitless until giving up a one-out single to Carlos Pena in the 7th; Carlos Corporan followed with another single, but the inning ended on a double play ground ball, after which Verlander was taken out of the game. The Tigers won, 9-0, and Verlander improved his record to 4-2, 1.55. He showed some of his determination to win on May 22nd, when a start against the Cleveland Indians was interrupted by rain with one out in the 5th and Detroit leading, 9-5. Even though the game was stopped for over an hour and he had thrown 100 pitches already, he convinced manager Jim Leyland to let him return when play resumed to complete the inning; he quickly set down the next two batters and was credited with his 5th win as Detroit held on for an 11-7 victory. He was named to the All-Star team for the 6th time, but had to bow out under the "Sunday Starter" rule when he pitched the last game of the first half for the Tigers on July 14th. It was a beauty, however, as he held the Texas Rangers hitless until Mitch Moreland's two-out double in the 7th. He left after that inning and got credit for the 5-0 win to bring his record on the year to 10-6. He finished the season with a record of 13-12, 3.46, pitching 218 1/3 innings and striking out 217. While he was eclipsed by teammate Max Scherzer during the regular season, he was outstanding in the postseason. facing the Oakland A's in the ALDS, he pitched seven scoreless innings in Game 2, but left with a no-decision; he then came back with 8 scoreless innings of two-hit ball to eliminate the A's in Game 5, walking 1 and striking out 10. In his lone start in the ALCS, he pitched another gem, giving up one run to the Boston Red Sox in 8 innings, but was charged with the loss as the Tigers lost, 1-0.

On January 9, 2014, the Tigers announced that Verlander had undergone core muscle surgery to treat a sports hernia sustained during off-season conditioning. The expected recovery time was six weeks, meaning it would delay the start of spring training for him, as the team's pitchers were slated to report to camp by mid-February. Still he recovered fast enough to be the Tigers' opening day starter. On April 12th, he collected the first two hits of his career in a 6-2 win over the San Diego Padres; he had gone 0 for 26 during the regular season and 0 for 3 in the postseason until then. However, he did not have his usual success that year, as he was only 10-11, 4.76 after 25 starts and had to undergo an MRI in mid-August because of "shoulder soreness". He who had never missed a start in the majors had had to leave the game on August 11th after allowing 5 runs to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1st inning in what was the shortest start of his career. He finished the season strong, however, ending up with a record of 15-12, 4.54 in 32 starts, with 206 innings pitched and 159 strikeouts - his lowest total since his rookie season. He started Game 2 of the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles and gave up 3 runs in 5 innings, but was not involved in the decision as the Tigers lost, 7-6, on their way to being swept by the O's.

On April 8, 2015, Verlander was placed on the disabled list for the first time of his career with a right triceps strain, missing his first start of the season which had been scheduled for that day. In fact, he was out of action for two months, not making his debut until June 13th. On June 19th, he gave up Alex Rodriguez's 3000th hit on a 1st-inning homer in a 7-2 loss to the New York Yankees. His season was frustrating as it took him a while to find his form, and once he did, his teammates were unable to score any runs for him. From July 24th to August 21st, he gave up one or fewer earned runs in five of six starts, but only went 1-3 due to a lack of run support. He put everything together on August 26th, however, as he mowed down the opposing Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim methodically, allowing only two walks over the first eight innings, with both runners being erased on double plays. However, Chris Iannetta led off the 9th by hitting the ball that fell on the left field foul line for a double, thwarting his bid for a third career no-hitter. He then retired the final three batters in order and was credited with a 5-0 shutout, his first shutout or complete game since 2012, and only his second win of the year. He ended the season at 5-8, 3.38 in 20 starts, his lowest win total since his initial cup of coffee in 2005.

On May 18, 2016, he recorded the 2000th strikeout of his career, the victim being Eddie Rosario of the Minnesota Twins. He had a veritable renaissance that season, recovering the ace mantle on the Tigers. He was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for July when he went 4-0, 1.69 with 48 strikeouts, numbers that would not have been out of place in his Cy Young Award and MVP-winning season. He finished the season at 16-9, 3.04 and led the AL with 254 strikeouts. He was a close second in the voting for the 2016 American League Cy Young Award, finishing behind former teammate Rick Porcello even though he received many more first-place votes than him (14 to 8); Porcello's win was due to receiving more down-ballot support. In that season, Verlander was also the last pitcher to issue a four-pitch intentional walk, doing so while facing Nick Markakis of the Atlanta Braves on October 2nd. The rule was changed after the season, making the walks automatic upon a signal from the defensive team's manager, without the need to make any pitches.

2017 was a tougher season both for Justin and the Tigers. The team never got going in the first half, and Justin struggled to a 5-5 record with an ERA of 4.96 after 17 starts. This was especially disappointment given he was coming off an excellent season and many observers thought at the start of the year that he was back being a dominant ace. As the All-Star break approached, given the team was quite old and unlikely to be competitive under its current configuration, there was increasing talk that the Tigers should complete the job they had started in 2015 by getting rid of some of their older players - including team icon Verlander. He made it past the July 31st deadline still with Detroit, but on August 31st, Verlander was traded to the Houston Astros in exchange for three prospects: Franklin Pérez, Jake Rogers, and Daz Cameron. The deal was finalized literally seconds before midnight, after which he would no longer have been eligible for postseason play. He was 10-8, 3.82 in a league-leading 28 starts at the time of the trade. He was a winner in his debut with the Astros on September 5th, giving up one run in 6 innings to the Seattle Mariners, that coming on a solo homer by Kyle Seager. When he left the game, the Astros were still hitless, but had managed to tie the game thanks to three walks and a sacrifice fly by Alex Bregman in the 3rd; Cameron Maybin then hit a homer after a walk to Brian McCann in the top of the 7th to provide the winning margin, and break the no-hit bid in the process. On September 12th, he pitched 8 innings of one-hit ball to give Houston a 1-0 victory over the Angels. It was important for him to pitch well as the Astros had surprisingly been swept by the last-place Oakland A's in a four-game series in the interim. He again won his next start on September 17th against the Seattle Mariners, 7-1, clinching a first division title for Houston since 2001. His dominating run continued on September 22nd when he limited the Angels to one hit over 7 innings in a 3-0 win. After going 5-0, 1.06 in September, he started Game 1 of the Division Series against the Boston Red Sox on October 5th and had another solid performance, limiting Boston to 2 runs in 6 innings to earn credit for an 8-2 win. He had the best pitching performance by anyone that postseason in Game 2 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees, pitching a complete game in a 2-1 win on October 14th. He added another win in Game 6, pitching 7 innings in a 7-1 win in Game 6. In the 2017 World Series, he made two starts, in Game 2 and 6, and both were similar: completely dominating performances of 6 innings marred by a pair of runs on very few hits. In Game 2, the Astros came back to win in extra innings, but they lost Game 6, 3-1, Verlander's first loss since being acquired by Houston. However, Houston came back to win Game 7 and he was a World Series winner for the first time of his career.

On April 15, 2018, he was locked up in a magnificent pitchers' duel with 44-year-old Bartolo Colon of the Texas Rangers in a nationally televized Sunday night game. He allowed just one hit in 8 innings, but it was a solo homer by Robinson Chirinos while Colon was perfect through the first seven innings, before allowing a run in the 8th. Both pitchers ended up with a no-decision as the game was decided in the 10th inning. He was the American League Pitcher of the Month in May when he went 3-2, 0.86 with just 22 hits allowed in 41 2/3 innings, while striking out 50 opponents. He reached the 200-win milestone on August 19th in a 9-4 win over the Oakland Athletics. It was a doubly important win as the two teams were tied for the AL West lead before the game. On September 10th, he returned to Detroit for the first time since the trade and in the game recorded his 250th strikeout of the season. With teammate Gerrit Cole having already reached the mark, the pair became the first since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling of the 2002 Arizona Diamondbacks to record that many K's, and the first pair of righthanded teammates to do so in modern history (i.e., since 1900). Verlander won a 3-2 decision that day to improve to 15-9 on the year. He finished the season at 16-9, 2.52 in 34 starts, with a league-leading 290 strikeouts. He finished second in the Cy Young Award voting. In the postseason, he won a game in the Astros' sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the Division Series, then was their only pitcher to win a game in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox with a 7-2 win in Game 1 on October 13th. However, he lost Game 5 when he allowed 4 runs in 6 innings.

On March 23, 2019, the Astros signed him to a two-year extension worth $66 million running until the end of the 2021 season. He continued his dominant pitching that season and on June 12th, for the first time in his career, struck out 15 batters in a start against the Milwaukee Brewers. His personal best before that was 14, achieved four times including twice the previous season, and he achieved this in 7 innings. Even more impressive, all 15 Ks were on swings and misses, a sign that he had absolutely filthy stuff that evening. He also did not walk a single batter. The Astros went on to record a team record 24 strikeouts in a game that took 14 innings. On September 1st, he pitched the third no-hitter of his career, victimizing the Blue Jays, 2-0. The blue Jays had been the opponents in his second no-hitter, back in 2011, so that made him only the 6th pitcher in history with three or more no-hit games, and the second to pull off the feat against the same team twice. The only baserunner he allowed was Cavan Biggio, the second batter he faced, who drew a 1st-inning walk. He needed 120 pitches and struck out 14 batters, but the game was scoreless until the top of the 9th when rookie Abraham Toro hit a two-run homer. He followed that up with another great start on September 7th, allowing just 1 run in 7 innings to lead Houston to a 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners and notch his major league-leading 18th win of the year. On September 22nd, he reached the 20-win mark for only the second time as the Astros defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 13-5, to clinch a third straight division title. In his final start of the regular season on September 28th, he became the 18th pitcher to amass 3,000 strikeouts, when he got Kole Calhoun of the Angels to whiff on a slider in the 4th inning, although Calhoun still managed to reach base on a dropped third strike. He also reached 300 strikeouts in a season for the first time as he struck out 12 in 6 innings in a 6-3 win. He finished the year with a record of 21-6, 2.58. In the postseason, however, he developed a vexing habit of surrendering runs in bunches in the 1st inning of his starts, starting with a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the Division Series; it happened again in Game 5 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees and Game 2 of the 2019 World Series, against the Washington Nationals, both of which he lost even if he pitched well after his initial hiccups. In the latter game, he became the all-time leader for postseason strikeouts with 202, moving past John Smoltz who had recorded 199 during his career. He also started and lost Game 6, on October 29th, with the Astros having a chance to clinch the title, as he gave up 3 runs in 5 innings. That gave him a lifetime 0-6 mark in 7 World Series starts. with an ERA of 5.68, one of a few rare blotches on an otherwise outstanding record. A couple of weeks later, he was named the winner of the 2019 American League Cy Young Award, ahead of teammate Gerrit Cole.

In March 2020, when Major League Baseball - and most of the world - was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, he had surgery on his right groin. This would normally have forced him to miss the start of the season, as the recovery period was six weeks, but it was already certain that the season would be delayed beyond that point. There was some criticism that a professional athlete would receive specialized medical treatment at such a time, but in any case, Verlander was able to resume throwing in mid-April, when a resumption of baseball was still far on the horizon. He recovered in time to be his team's starting pitcher when play finally resumed on July 24th, facing the Mariners at Minute Maid Park for his 12th opening day start. He led the Astros to their eighth consecutive opening day win as he gave up only a pair of solo homers in 6 innings and Houston won, 8-2. However, on July 26th, news came out that he had a forearm strain, and some news sources claimed that his season was over. He put a damper on this stating that he only needed some rest and that the condition would be reassessed after a couple of weeks. Still, this was very bad news for the Astros, given that Cole had left via free agency in the off-season and they were now badly short of starting pitching. It turned out that the news sources were right, as he not only did not come back that season, but on September 19th, it was announced that he needed to undergo Tommy John surgery, meaning he would not be back until 2022 - if at all.

Verlander did return in 2022, being ready for the beginning of the season, making his first start on April 9th. On April 16th, in his second start, he pitched 8 scoreless innings to earn his first win of the season, 4-0 over the Seattle Mariners. In that game, he reached an important career milestone - 3,000 innings pitched. He continued to pitch as well as ever in his next few outings, including a game on May 10th when he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning in a start against the Minnesota Twins. Gio Urshela ended the bid with a one-out single in the 8th, but he completed 8 scoreless innings in the 5-0 win to improve to 4-1, 1.55 on the season. He continued to pitch well, making a bid to not only return to the All-Star Game, but possibly to start it. On June 24th, he ended the New York Yankees' 15-game home winning streak with another brilliant performance, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits in 7 innings in a 3-1 win that improved his record to 9-3. He was named to the All-Star team for the 9th time although he did not appear in the game, having pitched on the preceding Sunday. On August 23rd, he pitched 6 hitless innings before leaving a start against the Minnesota Twins, receiving credit for the 4-2 win and improving his record to 16-3, 1.87. In his next start, however, against the Baltimore Orioles on August 28th, he left afer just three innings with an apparent leg injury and it was announced he would undergo an MRI on his calf. He was out of action until September 16th, when he returned with yet another excellent performance, tossing 5 hitless and scoreless innings in a 5-0 win over Oakland. He finished the year at 18-4, 1.75, with 185 strikeouts, leading the AL in both ERA and wins, in addition to ERA+, WHIP and fewest hits allowed per 9 innings (116 in 175 innings). He was given the ball for Game 1 of the Division Series against the Mariners on October 11th, and while things did not go well as he ended up giving up 6 runs on 10 hits in 4 innings, he passed Clayton Kershaw for most postseason strikeouts, with his 208th, although Kershaw was scheduled to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS the next day and was likely to regain the lead in short order - which is exactly what happened when Kershaw picked up 6 strikeouts. But with the Dodgers' surprise quick elimination from the postseason, it opened the door for Verlander to retake the lead and build a cushion, which he did with a magnificent 11-K performance in a win over the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS on October 19th, bringing his total to 219. He had one last monkey to get off his back, which was to record his elusive first win in a World Series start: he failed to do so in Game 1 against the Philadelphia Phillies, when he gave up 5 runs in 5 innings, but he did it in Game 5 on November 3rd when he pitched five innings of one-run ball in a 3-2 win. The Astros won the World Series in six games, giving him his second ring. After the season, he was the unanimous winner of the 2022 American League Cy Young Award, his third time winning the award. He was also the winner of the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Verlander became a free agent after his tremendous 2022 season, and in spite of his age turned out to be in high demand. On December 5th, he signed a two-year contract with the New York Mets worth $86.7 million, with a vesting option for 2025 worth another $35 million. The Mets had just lost ace Jacob deGrom who had signed with the Texas Rangers a few days earlier and were eager to replace him. The deal also allowed him to reunite with former Tigers teammate Max Scherzer. However, he missed the start of the season with an injury and had to wait until May 4, 2023 to make his Mets debut. It came against his original team, the Detroit Tigers, and while he did well, allowing 2 runs in 5 innings, both on solo homers in the 1st, he was still saddled with the loss as the Mets failed to score any runs. He earned his first win of the season on May 10th, when he defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 2-1. With that win, he had at least one victory against all 30 major league teams, becoming the 21st pitcher to accomplish this. On July 30th, one day after Scherzer had been traded and amidst rumors that he would be traded too, Verlander picked up the 250th win of his career, defeating the Washington Nationals, 5-2. On August 1st, as speculated, the trade was made official, as he was sent back to Houston in return for minor league OFs Ryan Clifford and Drew Gilbert, both ranked among Houston's top four prospects. He went 7-3, 3.31 in 11 starts for Houston, to finish at 13-8, 3.22 in 27 starts, with 144 strikeouts in 162 1/3 innings. In the postseason, he started Game 1 of the Division Series against the Minnesota Twins on October 7th, earning a win with 6 scoreless innings. He then started twice more in the ALCS against the Texas Rangers, but lost Game 1 in spite of a good performance, allowing 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings in a 2-0 loss, and then getting a no-decision in Game 5.

He missed the start of the 2024 season with shoulder inflammation, but when he made his debut on April 19th, he was as good as ever as he pitched six innings of two-run ball against the Washington Nationals to earn credit for a 5-3 win.

Personal Life[edit]

Verlander donated the $70,000 in bonuses he earned for the Cy Young and MVP awards after the 2011 season to his Victory for Veterans Foundation, topping it from his own funds to reach $100,000. A number of his relatives have served in the armed forces, from World War II to Afghanistan, and he decided to give back by supporting the John D. Dingell Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit, MI and the Veterans Affairs Healthcare Center in Ann Arbor, MI. He has also hosted hundreds of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan in his family suite at Comerica Park and tries to meet personally with as many of his guests as possible.

Justin's brother, Ben Verlander, an outfielder who followed Justin to Old Dominion University, was drafted by the Tigers in the 14th round of the 2013 amateur draft. He had been a 46th round selection out of high school in 2010.

In 2014, Justin's relationship with actress Kate Upton received a lot of publicity as she was seen at ballparks where he pitched on various occasions. The relationship became official, and in May of 2016, Kate announced that the two were officially engaged although there was no date for the wedding yet. After Verlander won a World Series ring with the Astros, the marriage finally took place in Italy on November 4, 2017. Ms. Upton had been present for every one of Justin's postseason starts, cheering him on with great enthusiasm. The couple announced in July of 2018 that Kate was expecting their first child, a daughter named Genevieve who was born the following November. Verlander credited his wife for saving his career when he was dealing with injuries in 2014, helping him stave off potential depression.

Sources include 2003-2006 Baseball Almanacs, 2002 Wilson Tobs stats

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2006 AL Rookie of the Year Award
  • 2006 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 9-time AL All-Star (2007, 2009-2013, 2018, 2019 & 2022)
  • 2011 AL MVP
  • 3-time AL Cy Young Award (2011, 2019 & 2022)
  • 2011 AL Pitcher's Triple Crown
  • 2017 ALCS MVP
  • 2022 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award
  • 2-time AL ERA Leader (2011 & 2022)
  • 4-time AL Wins Leader (2009, 2011, 2019 & 2022)
  • 3-time AL Winning Percentage Leader (2007, 2011 & 2022)
  • 4-time AL Innings Pitched Leader (2009, 2011, 2012 & 2019)
  • 5-time AL Strikeouts Leader (2009, 2011, 2012, 2016 & 2018)
  • AL Complete Games Leader (2012)
  • AL Shutouts Leader (2018)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 12 (2006, 2007, 2009-2012, 2014, 2016-2019 & 2022)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 2 (2011 & 2019)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 12 (2007-2014 & 2016-2019)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 9 (2009-2013 & 2016-2019)
  • 300 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2019)
  • Won two World Series with the Houston Astros in 2017 and 2022

AL Rookie of the Year
2005 2006 2007
Huston Street Justin Verlander Dustin Pedroia
AL Cy Young Award
2010 2011 2012
Felix Hernandez Justin Verlander David Price
2018 2019 2020
Blake Snell Justin Verlander Shane Bieber
2010 2022 2023
Robbie Ray Justin Verlander tbd
2010 2011 2012
Josh Hamilton Justin Verlander Miguel Cabrera

Further Reading[edit]

  • David Adler: "Verlander doing something no one has before",, October 26, 2022. [1]
  • Jason Beck: "Verlander finishes close second in Cy Young vote",, November 16, 2016. [2]
  • Anthony Castrovince: "deGrom repeats, JV edges Cole for Cy honors",, November 13, 2019. [3]
  • Anthony DiComo: "Verlander's resume complete with WS title: Veteran right-hander key part of Astros' championship run",, November 2, 2017. [4]
  • Anthony DiComo: "In Verlander, Mets replace one ace with another",, December 6, 2022. [5]
  • Anthony Fenech: "Once a Tigers rookie phenom, Verlander takes Fulmer under his wing", Detroit Free Press, August 19, 2016. [6]
  • Anthony Fenech: "Justin Verlander admits - briefly - Detroit Tigers tenure may now be over", Detroit Free Press, July 25, 2017. [7]
  • Bryan Hoch: "Verlander collects elusive WS win: 'Just an incredible feeling': Dusty channels old friend Tommy John to navigate ace's outing in pivotal Game 5",, November 4, 2022. [8]
  • Jordan Horrobin: "Verlander becomes sixth hurler with 3 no-hitters",, September 1, 2019. [9]
  • Richard Justice: "Verlander named ALCS MVP after superb starts: Astros' co-ace has been crucial to club's run to World Series"., October 22, 2017. [10]
  • Richard Justice: "Verlander adds to resume with second ASG start",, July 9, 2019. [11]
  • Matt Kelly: "Verlander-Cole may be most dominant duo ever: Astros pair could make history with 1-2 finish in ERA, WHIP, K's",, September 7, 2019. [12]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Justin Verlander's no-hitter further proof the ace starting pitcher will always rule", USA Today, September 1, 2019. [13]
  • Mike Lupica: "For Verlander, this is 40: A shot at 300 wins",, February 20, 2023. [14]
  • Jonathan Mayo: "Once rivals, still friends: Verlander, Orenduff recount epic duel 20 years later",, April 23, 2024. [15]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Astros feel the love for newest ace: Verlander 9-0 with 1.23 ERA since trade to Houston",, October 21, 2017. [16]
  • Brian McTaggart: "2 milestones for JV, HFA for Astros in playoffs",, September 28, 2019. [17]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Verlander to undergo Tommy John surgery",, September 19, 2020. [18]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Same as he ever was: Verlander hurls gem",, April 17, 2022. [19]
  • Brian McTaggart: "JV's remarkable year capped with unanimous 3rd Cy Young",, November 16, 2022. [20]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Verlander back to Houston as Mets trade ace: Astros send 2 of their top 4 prospects to NY in exchange for 3-time Cy winner, cash",, August 1, 2023. [21]
  • Jon Paul Morosi: "In final moments, Verlander decides on Astros",, September 1, 2017. [22]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Justin Verlander has it all — including, once again, dominance on the mound", USA Today Sports, September 12, 2016. [23]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Tigers' Justin Verlander back to dominant self", USA Today Sports, April 4, 2017. [24]
  • Bob Nightengale: "New Astro Justin Verlander: Important to 'make a good first impression'", USA Today Sports, September 6, 2017. [25]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Astros' Justin Verlander wins second AL Cy Young Award, but this one is even sweeter", USA Today, November 13, 2019. [26]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Justin Verlander's arm injury major blow to Houston Astros' World Series hopes", USA Today, July 26, 2020. [27]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Losing Justin Verlander is massive blow to Astros' present and future as big decisions loom",, September 19, 2020. [28]
  • George Sipple: "Justin Verlander worried about fixing change-up, ignoring trade rumors", Detroit Free Press, July 5, 2017. [29]
  • Shawn Windsor: "Justin Verlander, now healthy, rediscovers greatness", USA Today Sports, January 27, 2017. [30]
  • Shawn Windsor: "Justin Verlander trade confirms end of an era for Detroit Tigers", Detroit Free Press, September 1, 2017. [31]
  • Jesse Yomtov: "Justin Verlander says Kate Upton saved his career – and life", USA Today, August 9, 2018. [32]

Related Sites[edit]