It was a tale of two halves for Justin Verlander, as he struggled to a 5.08 ERA, 1.51 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 over his first 15 regular-season starts, but then posted a 1.92 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 10.6 K/9 over his final 16. Walks were a problem in the first half (4.0 BB/9), but Verlander seemed to regain the feel for his slider later in the year, and that pitch was the key to his dominance down the stretch and through the postseason. The trade to Houston is huge for Verlander's fantasy value moving forward, as he has a great offense powering him, a much better defense behind him, and his home park was the most pitcher-friendly park in baseball the past two seasons. The 34-year-old has a lot of mileage on his arm, and the results could suffer if he's unable to keep the tick in velocity he added back last season, but Verlander deserves the benefit of the doubt. For now, he's still an ace in real life and fantasy.
Verlander will start Wednesday in Game 2 of the Astros' World Series matchup with the Dodgers, Matt Kelly of MLB.com reports. Fresh off being named the American League Championship Series MVP following the Astros' seven-game triumph over the Yankees, Verlander will have a short turnaround to try and keep a powerful Dodgers offense at bay. During the ALCS, Verlander followed up a complete-game, 13-strikeout effort in Game 2 with seven shutout innings in a Game 6 victory.
Verlander will start Game 6 of the ALCS against the Yankees on Friday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. This is why Houston acquired Verlander at the end of August. With the Astros down 3-2 in a best-of-seven set, Verlander will get the ball as he looks to keep the team's World Series hopes alive. He tossed a complete game gem in Game 2 of the ALCS against New York, striking out 13 batters and allowing just one run on five hits and a walk to earn the win.
Verlander was named the starter for Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports. Dallas Keuchel will take the mound for Game 1 as the two pitchers switch spots in the order for this series, following Verlander's relief appearance during Game 4 of the ALDS against the Red Sox on Monday. The right-hander should be well-rested and ready to go, and will likely be in line for a Game 6 start on Oct. 20, if the series lasts that long.
Verlander will start Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday against the Red Sox. Verlander gets the ball in Game 1 and Dallas Keuchel will start in Game 2, as the former's excellent run since joining the Astros (1.06 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 43 strikeouts in 34 innings) was enough to give him the edge in the postseason rotation. Given Verlander's famed durability and ability to hold his stuff deep into starts, it's possible that he will be called upon in Game 4 if the Astros are up against the ropes.
Verlander (15-8) allowed two runs on six hits while striking out 11 batters through six innings to take the win against Texas on Wednesday. Verlander has now won five consecutive games since joining Houston, and he's also done in it impressive fashion with just four runs allowed while striking out 43 batters through 34 innings. He'll take a high-end 3.36 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 10.3 K/9 into the postseason, as the 34-year-old veteran pursues a championship to add to his already lengthy list of accolades.