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Justin Verlander has been one of baseball’s best pitchers since arriving in Houston at the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline in 2017.
But his dominance during the regular season has not translated to the World Series, baseball’s biggest stage.
That trend continued during Game 1 on Friday night at Minute Maid Field, as the Astros and Verlander blew an early 5-0 lead en route to a devastating 6-5 loss to the Phillies.
After the game, Verlander’s brother Ben broke down what led to the latest disappointment for the likely AL Cy Young winner:
Ben was clearly uncomfortable with having to dissect the issues with his brother’s performance and understandably so.
He praised the Phillies’ hitters, their resiliency and adjustments to the Astros game plan that enabled the comeback.
That said, he buried the lede of just how bad Verlander’s been throughout his World Series career.
Justin Verlander has started eight career games in the World Series, and his record after Friday’s game is 0-6. The team he’s pitched for is 1-7 in those eight starts.
His ERA is an astonishing 6.07, which is the worst in baseball history amongst pitchers with more than 30 career innings in the World Series.
Amongst baseball fans, Clayton Kershaw is often seen as a poor postseason pitcher; someone who “chokes” when the lights are brightest.
Except Verlander’s been much, much worse during the Fall Classic than Kershaw.
|World Series||Clayton Kershaw||Justin Verlander|
|Home Runs Allowed||6||9|
|Opposing Batting Average||.217||.248|
Not to mention that Kershaw’s stats are at least partially influenced by his opposition.
In 2017, Kershaw had to face Verlander’s Astros, who famously were using an elaborate cheating system that benefitted hitters, particularly at home.
In Game 1 of that series at Dodger Stadium, Kershaw pitched seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out 11 in a 3-1 Dodgers victory.
But in Game 5 in Houston, he got through only 4.2 innings, walked three, struck out just two hitters and allowed six runs.
How much of that is attributable to the Astros’ cheating we’ll never know. But it stands to reason that his World Series numbers could, and should, look even better.
Verlander’s been the pitcher people think Kershaw is, but has escaped a lot of the same criticism.
His performance in Game 1 only makes him look worse while putting the Astros in a significant hole to start the series.
Assuming the Phillies don’t sweep, Verlander will get another chance in Game 5, but it almost certainly won’t be enough to change the fact that he’s been MLB’s worst World Series pitcher…ever.