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 is back in the win column

McCullers Jr. spins a gem as Astros get a much-needed win over Giants

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

After getting swept by the A's in Oakland to end a road trip with a five-game losing streak, the Astros returned to Houston to try and get back on track. To do so, they'd need a win against the Giants on Monday night. Here is a quick recap of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 6, Giants 4.

Record: 7-9, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 6.10 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Logan Webb (1-1, 2.81 ERA).

Houston builds up an early lead

The early goings of Monday's game went very similar to the last time Lance McCullers Jr. took the mound. He would have a terrific first three innings while his offense gave him an early lead. The first run came in the bottom of the second, with Yuli Gurriel reaching base on a one-out double, moving to third on a wild pitch, then scoring on an RBI-single by Carlos Correa.

Correa would take part in a four-run inning in the third, as Houston would score two on a two-RBI ground-rule double by Michael Brantley, another on an error, then Correa's second RBI of the night, a groundout to bring in a run and make it 5-0. Unlike the last start in Arizona, where the roof opened and McCullers Jr. fell apart in the fourth, he was able to make quick work of his opponent for a 1-2-3 frame. As he kept recording scoreless innings, Martin Maldonado added another run to the lead with a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, making it 6-0.

McCullers Jr. takes a no-hitter into the seventh

While the Astros were building their lead, McCullers Jr. was spinning a gem on the mound. He allowed just one baserunner through the first six innings, which came on a hit-by-pitch. He entered the seventh with a no-hitter in progress, but the Giants would get their first hit of the night to end the no-hit bid.

Regardless, the start was precisely what McCullers Jr. needed to restore his confidence after the disastrous inning he had in his last appearance. He would go on to complete the seventh inning before Houston would go to the bullpen with the large lead in the eighth. His final line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K 0 HR, 1 HPB.

Houston gets back in the win column despite more struggles by Josh James

Josh James entered out of the bullpen for the top of the eighth but allowed the first run of the night for San Francisco via a solo home run with one out to make it 6-1. He would complete the inning and then return for the top of the ninth. He would have another rocky inning, issuing a leadoff walk before a single and double would make it a four-run game at 6-2, still with no outs in the inning and runners on second and third, prompting another call to the bullpen.

Dusty Baker would bring in his current closer, Ryan Pressly, to try and finish the game, now in a save situation. Pressly would retire the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-RBI single to make it 6-4, but would eventually get the final out to get Houston the much-needed win. With the victory, the Astros moved back into second place in the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Tuesday at 8:10 PM Central. The Giants, working with a fluid rotation, have not yet fully decided on their starter, while the Astros will get another start from Brandon Bielak (2-0, 0.87 ERA) who will look to repeat the success of his five-inning, no-run start in Arizona last week.

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