Verlander is the fourth in franchise history to take home the award

​Justin Verlander wins the 2019 AL Cy Young Award

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After a close race with teammate Gerrit Cole, the MLB announced on Wednesday that the winner of the 2019 American League Cy Young Award is Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros. He beat out the two other finalists, Gerrit Cole, who placed second, and Charlie Morton, who finished third. Verlander received 17 first-place votes to Gerrit Cole's 13.

Getting better with age

Verlander had one of the best seasons of his storied career in 2019, posting new bests in strikeouts (300) and WHIP (0.803) en route to a 21-6 record over 34 starts and 223 innings pitched, the most of anyone in the majors. Of qualified starters in the AL, Verlander's 2.58 ERA was second, eight points behind Gerrit Cole, who finished with a 2.50 and fourth-best in the entire league.

He had two complete games over the course of 2019, the first coming on August 21st against his former team, the Detroit Tigers. He would lose that game, allowing two earned runs in a 2-1 loss. Two starts later, Verlander had arguably his signature moment of the year, posting his other complete game, his third career no-hitter in Toronto against the Blue Jays on September 1st in a 2-0 victory.

A year of milestones

Not only was 2019 a successful year in itself for Verlander, but it also boosted his numbers as he continues to climb up the leaderboard of the game's best hurlers, ever. Now at 225 wins, Verlander sits alone at 70th on the all-time list, which will make him the highest active player on the list with CC Sabathia's retirement (Sabathia sits at 251, tied for 47th). In terms of career WAR (Wins Above Replacement), he now sits at 71.4, the highest active player, and ranked number 30 all-time.

Also, Verlander reached strikeout number 3,000 of his career this year, finishing the regular season with 3,006. That moved him to number 18 on the list as he advanced several spots by way of his 300 on the season. Most notably, he passed Cy Young himself, who moves down to number 22 with 2,803 with Verlander passing him and taking over as the top active player on the list with Sabathia's retirement. Sabathia sits 16th with 3,093; a number Verlander will in all likelihood pass next year as he marches up the list.

This is Verlander's second Cy Young, with the first coming in his 2011 MVP season with the Tigers. He's finished second three times, most recently in 2018 behind Blake Snell. He becomes just the fourth player in franchise history to take home the honor, joining Mike Scott in 1986, Roger Clemens in 2004, and Dallas Keuchel in 2015.

With two years left under contract, the Astros will have the benefit of watching the future Hall of Famer continue to accrue awards and accolades and rise up all-time leaderboards. While it didn't happen in 2019, they will also hope to have him be the ace of a World Series-winning rotation again as they did in 2017.

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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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