The Astros are the American League pennant winner, thanks in part to a 4-0 (box score) Game 7 ALCS win over the Yankees on Saturday night. Among the post-game housekeeping items is naming an MVP and MLB has done so, with starting pitcher Justin Verlander taking the honors.
In two starts in the series, Verlander was 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 16 innings. He threw a complete game in Game 2 and got the win thanks to a walk-off double from Carlos Correa. Then, with the Astros' backs against the wall in Game 6, trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, Verlander dominated the Yankees for seven scoreless innings.
Though the Astros had a few other players worthy of praise in this series, there was really only one choice for MVP. We don't get to see voting totals on the LCS MVP choices, but it should've been unanimous here.
It's a fun twist, too, because Verlander didn't even join the Astros until the final few minutes on Aug. 31. He had cleared waivers, so trades could still be worked out in August, but once the calendar officially turned to September, players traded wouldn't be eligible for the postseason roster. The Astros worked out a deal with the Tigers for Verlander, but he had a no-trade clause.
Reports indicated Verlander mulled over his decision for hours. He ended up deciding to take the plunge and he's pointed to a phone call from fellow ace Dallas Keuchel that helped him make up his mind. In the postgame ceremony on Saturday where Verlander received the ALCS MVP trophy, he reiterated that phone call from Keuchel is what helped him make up his mind.
Further, Verlander spoke glowingly about the great people of Houston and how the entire Astros organization has taken him and his family in. He straight out said, "I do not regret my decision" and mentioned his desire to win a championship for the city of Houston.
Remember, Verlander has won two pennants before, with the Tigers in both 2006 and 2012, but he has never won it all. He's won Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP. We can now add ALCS MVP to the list of his personal accolades.
He wants a ring now.
The Astros are just four wins away, thanks to the help of a last-minute, Aug. 31 addition of a proven playoff ace in Justin Verlander.
For now, it's a celebration. Verlander is the ALCS MVP and the Astros are the American League champions.