Justin Verlander’s past World Series struggles set up favorable matchup for Phillies in Game 1
The Phillies take the field on Friday night for Game 1 of the World Series, and 17-year veteran Justin Verlander is set to take the hill for the Houston Astros.
Justin Verlander is an MVP winner, 2x Cy-Young, ROTY, Triple Crown Winner, 9x All-Star, and World Series Winner. It’s no secret that his resume runs deep, and he’s been one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball over the last 20 years…but it all changes when he gets to the World Series.
Justin Verlander’s World Series Struggles
The 2x Cy-Young has started seven career games in the World Series and holds an 0-6 record. He’s logged a 5.68 ERA, allowing 24 earned runs and 35 hits in 38 total innings. He’s struck out just 39 batters in that time, has a WHIP of 1.289, an H9 of 8.3, and a WPA (Wins Probability Added by Pitcher) of -0.84.
World Series Dates and Times for All 7 Games >>
Justin Verlander has never exited a World Series start with the lead, and his teams have never really given him run support in those starts. The Astros and Tigers combined for just seven runs in Verlander’s seven starts when he was in the game.
The long ball has been Verlander’s problem, as he’s allowed nine in seven starts, coming out to just over two every nine innings. The Phillies’ offense runs in high gear when the home runs are coming, something that could really put us in good shape early and get the dominant righty out of the game early.
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Justin Verlander is a four-pitch pitcher but only throws his least common pitch (changeup) 2.4% of the time. The 4-seam fastball (50.4%) is the leading pitch in Verlander’s arsenal after being known for years as a hard-throwing, high-fastball arm. His heater doesn’t sit anywhere where it used to, averaging out around 96 mph, but can still get up there early in the game.
He throws a slider 28.3% of the time, which usually tends to sit down low and inside on righties. Verlander throws a curveball 18.8% of the time, but if it’s not a fastball in a 2-strike count, expect him to flick that slider low in the zone.
The key to hitting Verlander is taking advantage of missed spots. He loves keeping his fastball high in the zone, especially once he gets in front of a hitter in the count, with his 2-strike miss being high and away. The Phillies have to stay disciplined and wait for their time to come. Verlander will make mistakes, but the more the Phillies chase after the wrong pitches, the tougher this matchup will be.
Don’t chalk this up as a win. Justin Verlander is still an extremely dangerous pitcher, going 18-4 in the regular season with a 1.75 ERA. But the bright lights of late-October baseball have been too big for Verlander in years past, and with a Phillies team playing free and easy baseball, anything can happen.
If there’s a game to steal in Houston, it’s going to be Game 1.