Verlander could be on Cy Young pace yet again

5 strikes from Justin Verlander's hot start to 2019

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After finishing second in Cy Young voting in 2018 to Blake Snell, many may have thought that the 2018 season would be as close as Justin Verlander would ever get to the award at this late stage in his career. Verlander is writing a different story, though, with his strong start to 2019.

1) Undefeated through six starts again

Through the first six starts of 2019, Verlander currently boasts a 4-0 record. The two games he didn't earn a win were his two worst starts so far, one being a four-run four-inning start against the Rangers in Arlington, the other a three-run six-inning start at home against the Yankees. He was taken off the hook in Arlington, though the Astros would end up losing the game, then similarly he was taken out of losing position in the Yankees game before Houston would get the go-ahead run later in the game, resulting in a no-decision for Verlander. Though it's unlikely he'll go undefeated all season, he's matched his win-loss record through six starts he had last year, where he had the same 4-0 record with two no-decisions.

2) Steady lowering of ERA 

After that three-run Yankees game mentioned earlier, Verlander's ERA had ballooned up to 4.24. In the three games since, he's allowed just one run in each, making it three runs over twenty-one innings to lower his 4.24 ERA back down to 2.61, which is currently seventh best in the American League. He'll need to continue to lower that ERA to match his 2018 pace, though, because at this point last season he had a spectacular 1.36 before lowering it even further to 1.05 at the ten-start mark.

3) Reliability to log innings

One of the biggest cases against Snell in the Cy Young voting in 2018 was that he didn't meet the traditionally-expected 200-inning mark. Verlander meanwhile threw 214 innings over his 34 starts last season. In 2019, Verlander has logged 38 innings over six starts, which has him comfortably on pace to put up another 200-plus inning season, a trait that has been a great benefit for Houston's bullpen that has to account for fewer innings of relief.

4) Easily addressable issues

Though the first six games of 2019, the two biggest flaws with Verlander's stats, by his standards, are that he's allowed a home run in each start and has walked 1.5 batters per game. These are easily and likely just early-season spot issues that someone, as experienced as Justin Verlander, can tweak quickly, as he has in previous seasons.

5) Big, historic strikeout numbers

Although Gerrit Cole's overall stat line is much worse than it was at this point last year, one highlight of his early season has been his role in another strikeout leader battle with Justin Verlander. Much like last season where they would trade spots on the strikeout leaderboard, they are doing the same again with Cole leading the AL with 54 and Verlander in third with 46. That puts Verlander on a similar pace to what he accomplished in his career-high 290 strikeout season in 2018. To tie it all together, Verlander is likely to pass several Hall of Fame pitchers for career strikeouts in 2019 including Cy Young himself. Verlander currently sits at 2,752 which is just 51 Ks away from Cy Young's 21st-best 2,803.

Looking forward: Verlander is projected to get two starts this week, one tonight on the road in Minnesota against the Twins, then he will be scheduled to get the nod on Sunday in Mexico City in the two-game international series against the Angels. Past that, if he can keep up his current pace, he should be a lock for the All-Star game and should be in the conversation for Cy Young at season's end.

Astros get a walk-off win against Boston

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 4-3 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With a win in game one of the series the night before in the books, the Astros looked to lock up the series win with a victory Saturday evening. Here's how the game went:

Final Score: Astros 4, Red Sox 3.

Record: 35-18, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Roberto Osuna (3-0, 1.54 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Matt Barnes (2-1, 2.25 ERA).

1) Peacock does it again

Brad Peacock took the mound on Saturday riding a three-game winning streak over his last three starts. He looked just as good in this as those, keeping Boston out of the scoring column. He had to work out of a couple of jams along the way, but in the end, it was a great start: six innings, five hits, zero runs, one walk, and eight strikeouts. That should have been enough for a win, but unfortunately would not factor in the decision.

2) Bats break through in the sixth, add on in the seventh, walk it off in the ninth

Houston's offense had a weird start to their night with starter David Price leaving the game with flu-like symptoms just two outs into the first inning. That would make it a bullpen day for the Red Sox, and it would prove tough for the Astros as they would be held scoreless through the first five innings.

Things changed in the sixth, though, after Carlos Correa worked a one-out walk then Yuli Gurriel moved him to second on a single. That would set up Josh Reddick for the biggest hit of the night so far, an RBI single to put the first run on the board for either team. Tyler White extended that lead to 2-0 in the next at-bat with an RBI single of his own. Houston's bats did more work against Boston's bullpen in the seventh, getting a leadoff double from Aledmys Diaz who would eventually come around to score on an RBI from Gurriel to make it a 3-1 game.

After the Red Sox tied the game 3-3 in the top of the ninth, it was up to Houston's offense again to come up with a run to win the game. Once again, Diaz sparked things by leading off the bottom of the ninth with a double. He'd move to third after Houston worked back-to-back walks to load the bases with no outs, then come around to score the winning run on an RBI by Carlos Correa.

3) Rough appearance for Osuna 

Hector Rondon took over for Peacock to start the seventh, but would only be able to notch two outs while putting two on base, resulting in a call for Ryan Pressly to take over. Pressly would give up an RBI-single to cut the lead in half at 2-1 before Houston would catch a runner advancing to end the inning.

Pressly remained in the game for the eighth and retired the Red Sox in order, setting up Roberto Osuna to take over in the ninth. Osuna would crumble, giving up back-to-back singles to start the inning, then hitting the next batter to load the bases with no outs. That was followed with a two-run single to tie the game before Osuna would finally get out of the inning, leaving the game tied.

Up Next: Houston will wrap up this series, which is also the last game of the season series, with Boston tomorrow afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1:10 PM. The pitching matchup will be Justin Verlander (8-1, 2.24 ERA) for the Astros going against Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 5.43 ERA) for the Red Sox. With a win, Houston will sweep this series and take five out of six in the regular-season series.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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