Through these playoffs, the Phillies have faced many elite pitchers. They creamed Max Fried, took a 4-0 lead against Cy Young winner Blake Snell, and beat Yu Darvish twice.
But they have yet to face a former MVP pitcher.
Game 1 of the 2022 World Series will change that. The Phillies will square off against Justin Verlander.
Phillies will have their hands full
If you haven’t heard of Justin Verlander, you have probably been living under a rock for the last 15 years. Verlander first made his MLB debut in 2005. In 2006, he won the AL Rookie of the Year award with a 3.63 ERA in 186 IP. He’d pitch in his first World Series that same year.
He appeared in 5-straight All-Star Games from 2009-2013. In that span, he had a 3.05 ERA in 1172 IP with a 9.2 K/9. He’d win his first Cy Young award in 2011. That same year, he became the first AL pitcher to win MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992. He won the award by becoming the first AL pitcher to win 24+ games, strike out 250+ batters, and post an ERA of 2.40 or lower.
After moving on from the Detroit Tigers, Verlander has had a late-career Renaissance. With an ERA+ of 187 in 5 years, Verlander has been the face of American League pitching. In 2019, he won his 2nd Cy Young award at the age of 36, posting a 21-6 record with a 2.58 ERA. Oh, and he struck out 300 batters for the first time in his career!
This season, he’s been absurdly better. While he made only 28 starts, he recorded an ERA of 1.75 and a 0.829 WHIP. He is the favorite to win AL Cy Young…for the 3rd time.
Facing this behemoth of baseball sounds daunting, BUT what if I told you Justin Verlander has never won a World Series game?
Verlander in the World Series
In 7 career World Series starts, Verlander has gone 0-6 with a 5.68 ERA. He’s averaged 2.1 HR per 9 innings pitched and walked an average of 2 per start. He’s collapsed under the bright lights of late October.
In his latest World Series appearance (2019), Verlander got crushed by the Washington Nationals. In his 2 starts, he allowed 7 ER, 12 hits, 6 BB, and 3 HR. He went 6 IP in game 2 and just 5 IP in game 6.
Individual Phillies’ stats
The majority of the Phillies’ roster has not seen much of Justin Verlander. Only 3 Phillies’ hitters have faced him 5 times or more: Jean Segura, Nick Castellanos, and Bryce Harper.
Jean Segura has seen him the most and has had good success against Verlander. In 14 career at bats, Segura has hit .286 with an .857 OPS against the future Hall of Famer. He even has 2 extra-base hits against him, a double and a homer run.
Nick Castellanos has seen him 8 times but with little success. He has a single hit against Verlander, a double.
Finally, Bryce Harper has faced Verlander 5 times. He’s gone 2/5 against him with 2 singles.
The Phillies as a team did face Justin Verlander on the 2nd to last day of the regular season. They were no-hit over 5 IP and struck out 10 times. To be fair, this game occurred the day after the Phillies clinched the Wild Card and a postseason birth for the first time in 11 years. There was certainly a celebration the night before.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum