Whenever Justin Verlander takes the hill for the Houston Astros to start a World Series game in the upcoming series against the Philadelphia Phillies, he’ll join an extremely exclusive, elite club. As of Thursday afternoon, the Astros hadn’t named a Game 1 starter, but the nod will likely go to the 39-year-old ace for the Friday night tilt.
Verlander started Game 1 of Houston’s four-game ALCS sweep of the New York Yankees last week. Ahead of the outing, he said he wanted to continue pitching until “they rip the jersey off me.” The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner was dominant in the bout with New York, striking out 11 over six innings in the team’s 4-2 victory, while becoming MLB’s all-time leader in postseason strikeouts in the process.
Both Clemens and Verlander have an extensive list of playoff experience, with the Astros and other teams.
Clemens — who retired after the 2007 season at the age of 45 — pitched in postseason contests in the 1980s with the Boston Red Sox (1986, 1988), the 1990s with the Red Sox (1990, 1995) and Yankees (1999), and during the 2000s with the Yankees (2000-2003, 2007) and Astros (2004-2005). Verlander made playoff starts with the Detroit Tigers in 2006, as well as 2011 through 2014, and has been on the bump for Houston in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022.
“The Rocket” threw out the first pitch at Minute Maid Park last week prior to Game 1 of the ALCS. He ended his postseason career with a 12-8 record and a 3.75 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 173 strikeouts across 199 innings pitched in 35 games (34 starts).
“JV” is 15-11 with a 3.55 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 219 strikeouts over 197 2/3 innings pitched covering 33 postseason games (32 starts).