Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander
35-Year-Old PitcherSP
Houston Astros
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Though he was denied a second Cy Young, the case can be made that Verlander submitted a career year. His walk and strikeout rates were both personal bests, while his ERA and WHIP were roughly on par with those he posted in his 2011 AL MVP campaign. If there’s a nit to pick, it’s that Verlander’s elevated flyball rate yielded 25-plus homers for the third straight season, but his stinginess with free passes limited the impact of the long balls. As his age-36 season approaches, Verlander has given no reason to doubt him keeping his spot in the top echelon of starters. His average velocity is actually up from his latter years with Detroit, and he had positive values for each of his three most common offerings in 2018 while limiting hitters to a 71.6% contact rate, which was nearly seven points below his career mark. Once again backed by a top-notch supporting cast, Verlander projects as a four-category standout even if his peripherals fade a bit. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a five-year, $140 million contract extension in March of 2013. Traded to the Astros in August of 2017.
Enters final year
PHouston Astros
February 7, 2019
Verlander and the Astros are open to discussing a contract extension, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
Verlander is entering the final year of his contract -- he made voiding a 2020 club option a condition of accepting a trade to Houston in August 2017 -- and the soon-to-be 36-year-old remains one of the best starters in the game. "We love Justin Verlander, and we traded for him for a reason, and he clearly has not declined at all. He continues to be one of the elite pitchers in the game," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "Of course we would have interest in keeping him around here as long as we possibly can." The right-hander finished second in the AL Cy Young voting in 2018, after going 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA, an MLB-best 0.90 WHIP and an AL-leading 290 strikeouts.
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Pitching Stats
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Minor League Game Log
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2016
Even Split
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2016vs Left .195 1235 407 97 217 51 4 45
Since 2016vs Right .222 1350 356 69 280 44 7 40
2018vs Left .177 381 148 21 62 17 1 14
2018vs Right .219 452 142 16 94 14 4 14
2017vs Left .221 405 115 42 79 17 1 16
2017vs Right .222 444 104 30 91 12 1 11
2016vs Left .187 449 144 34 76 17 2 15
2016vs Right .226 454 110 23 95 18 2 15
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2016
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
Since 2016Home 2.82 0.94 341.0 22 14 0 10.8 2.1 1.2
Since 2016Away 3.15 1.12 305.2 25 12 0 10.4 2.5 1.1
2018Home 2.84 0.84 117.1 4 7 0 13.0 1.2 1.5
2018Away 2.14 0.98 96.2 12 2 0 11.2 2.0 0.8
2017Home 2.45 1.07 95.2 8 2 0 8.3 3.4 0.8
2017Away 4.16 1.27 110.1 7 6 0 10.7 2.9 1.5
2016Home 3.07 0.93 129.0 10 5 0 10.5 2.0 1.4
2016Away 3.01 1.09 98.2 6 4 0 9.4 2.6 0.9
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Stat Review
How does Justin Verlander compare to other starting pitchers?
This section compares his stats with all starting pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 120 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
95.1 mph
Strand %
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Stats Vs Today's Lineup
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
It was a tale of two halves for Verlander, as he struggled to a 5.08 ERA, 1.51 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 over his first 15 regular-season starts, but then posted a 1.92 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 10.6 K/9 over his final 16. Walks were a problem in the first half (4.0 BB/9), but Verlander seemed to regain the feel for his slider later in the year, and that pitch was the key to his dominance down the stretch and through the postseason. The trade to Houston is huge for Verlander's fantasy value moving forward, as he has a great offense powering him, a much better defense behind him, and his home park was the most pitcher-friendly park in baseball the past two seasons. The 34-year-old has a lot of mileage on his arm, and the results could suffer if he's unable to keep the tick in velocity he added back last season, but Verlander deserves the benefit of the doubt. For now, he's still an ace in real life and fantasy.
Those paying close attention noticed that Verlander was actually "back" in the second half of 2015, after recovering from his triceps injury. In fact, his 2014 struggles were directly related to core surgery he had before that season started, so looking back it seems clear that the supposed decline of Verlander was more a matter of injury than flat out skill erosion. Even still, it's somewhat surprising that Verlander went all the way back to being a Cy Young frontrunner (he was robbed), but a deep secondary arsenal in his prime was always cited as a reason why he would decline gracefully even as his velocity waned. A fully healthy Verlander recaptured some of the lost velocity and worked the top of the zone at 93-96 mph while leaning on a pair of devastating breaking balls in the middle and lower thirds of the zone. Plan for a 3.30-3.50 ERA, a good WHIP and tons of strikeouts.
Detroit's brass breathed a huge sigh of relief when Verlander and his $28 million arm finally came off the disabled list last June. His triceps injury was behind him, but he struggled with consistency and wobbled into the All-Star break. The break did the former stud a world of good and he was lights-out in his last 14 starts, going 5-5 with a 2.27 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Perhaps more importantly, the velocity of Verlander's four-seam fastball took a tick up to 99.1 mph from 98.0 the year before. We're not entirely convinced he is all the way back to his ace status of 2009-12, but Verlander has taken big enough strides for us to move him up our draft lists. His 5-8 win-loss record will scare off novice or emotional owners, but there's real value here for savvy drafters.
Verlander was one of the more disappointing high-end starters in fantasy last season. The former Cy Young and MVP winner, who was arguably the best pitcher in baseball for a two-season stretch in 2011 and 2012, posted somewhat mediocre stats across the board last season. His strikeout numbers dipped for the third consecutive season to 6.9 K/9, and he uncharacteristically struggled against right-handed hitters, who hit .321 against him in 378 plate appearances. His average fastball velocity dropped to 92.3 mph, which was one mph less than 2013 and three mph less than his peak speed in 2008. Verlander’s curveball was also much less effective than in past seasons. Despite the dip in production, Verlander still managed to post a 3.81 FIP, and his opponents' .327 BABIP was well over his career norm of .301. Outside of his dip in strikeouts and velocity, many of Verlander’s peripheral and advanced metrics were similar to his career norms, and while he may never return to the peak form he showed 3-4 years ago, he remains a good bounce-back candidate, especially if he has rediscovered some of his lost velocity when spring hits.
Due to the lofty standards Verlander set the previous two seasons, his 2013 campaign was seen as a slight disappointment. He finished 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, numbers well off the pace from his 41-13, 2.52 ERA and 0.99 WHIP line over the previous two seasons. While he remained a workhorse (218.1 innings) and eclipsed 200 strikeouts (217) for the fifth consecutive season, Verlander wasn’t his usually dominant self for most of the season. He saw a drop in fastball velocity, averaging 93.3 mph after hovering near 95.0 mph the past handful of seasons. His walk rate also inched above three free passes per nine (3.1 BB/9) for the first time since 2008. However, after some late-season mechanical tweaks, Verlander started to resemble his MVP form. His fastball started hitting 95-plus mph with more regularity in September, and he finished the final month of the season with a 2.27 ERA and 48:10 K:BB ratio in 39.2 innings. The dominance continued in the playoffs, as Verlander posted a 0.39 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 23 postseason innings. After failing to pitch at a Cy Young level for the first four months of the 2013 campaign, Verlander’s price tag on draft day could be discounted compared to previous years, but his late-season surge and the return of his velocity should lead to Verlander once again performing like an elite starting pitcher option. Verlander's availability for Opening Day could be in jeopardy, however, after he had core repair surgery in mid-January.
While he didn't take home MVP or Cy Young accolades or win 24 games, Verlander was arguably just as dominant last year as he was in 2011. The Tigers' ace finished the season 17-8 with 2.64 ERA and 1.06 WHIP while leading the league in both strikeouts (239) and innings pitched (238.1). He saw improvements from the previous season in his K/9 (9.0), GB/FB ratio (1.2) and FIP (2.94). Aside from his usually blazing fastball, steady changeup and knee-buckling curve, Verlander also unleashed an improved slider that helped add to his arsenal of already deadly pitches. His high workload (266.1 innings with playoffs included) would be worrisome for many pitchers, but Verlander has proven to be a durable workhorse throughout his career. Entering his age-30 season, Verlander remains one of the best pitchers in baseball whose name should be bandied about when discussing which starter should be the first selected in fantasy leagues.
Already one of the best pitchers in the majors, Verlander put together a historic season in 2011. He led the American League in wins (24), ERA (2.40), strikeouts (250), innings pitched (251) and WHIP (0.920), which earned him Cy Young and MVP honors. A .236 BABIP and 3.12 xFIP hint at luck being on Verlander’s side in 2011, but there’s no denying his dominance, as he continues to mystify hitters with a fastball that routinely touches triple digits, one of the best curveballs in the game, a stellar change-up and an improving slider. At 29, Verlander is locked into the prime of his career. He’s one of the best strikeout artists in the league and has been extremely durable throughout his career despite a heavy workload. While he’s unlikely to repeat his historic performance from 2011, Verlander has cemented his place among the elite starters in baseball.
Verlander solidified his status as the Tigers' ace and a perennial Cy Young candidate with another outstanding season in 2010. The 27-year-old flamethrower finished sixth in the AL in wins (18), fourth in strikeouts (219) and 11th in ERA (3.37). The only concern for fantasy owners with Verlander is his continued heavy workload -- he has tossed more than 200-plus innings in four consecutive seasons. That said, Verlander actually got stronger toward the end of the season in 2010, so those worries might be much ado about nothing. Continue to target Verlander as one of the aces of your fantasy staff.
Verlander put it all together in 2009, finishing 19-9 with a 3.45 ERA while leading all MLB pitchers with 269 strikeouts. Manager Jim Leyland leaned heavily on his ace, pushing Verlander to a career-high 240 innings pitched, 39 more than his previous high. While the spike in innings is alarming, Verlander didn't appear fatigued down the stretch. He still sports the same high-90s fastball, and now that he has figured out how to mix in his secondary pitches well enough to get batters out at the plate, Verlander should be a fixture among the fantasy-elite pitchers for years to come.
Verlander is coming off a disappointing season that saw him taking steps back rather than forward in his development. His strikeout numbers dipped and his walks increased compared to his great 2007 season. Despite this step back, Verlander's K/9 ratio remains strong. He'll need to work on cutting back a bit on the walks and if he does, a return to his 2007 form is likely. Verlander is a nice target in fantasy drafts as he figures to be a bit undervalued. The basic skills that made him successful are still there so he’s worth buying low on if you get a chance.
Verlander established himself as the Tigers' ace in 2007. He also silenced some concerns by remaining strong through the end of the season and by increasing his strikeout rate. The increased strikeout rate, which is more in line with what he did in the minors, indicates that Verlander is feeling more comfortable with his ability to go after hitters in the majors. More improvement should be expected from the 25-year-old this season as he enters the upper echelon of fantasy starters.
Verlander earned AL Rookie of the Year honors last season by going 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA in 30 starts for Detroit. He throws gas and has a nice breaking pitch to keep batters off balance. The only concern last season was the fact that he wore down late in the year and started to struggle. A little fatigue is acceptable for a pitcher who threw 130 total innings in 2005 and increased that workload to 207.2 innings after the playoffs had ended in 2006. There has to be some concern about his arm entering 2007 but the Tigers did their best to rest him when they could last season despite being in a pennant chase all year. There is plenty of upside here but that should be tempered a bit by the durability issues.
Verlander, who is one of the more promising pitching prospects in baseball, won Minor League Baseball's Starting Pitcher of the Year Award after dominating batters at both Single-A and Double-A last season. With good command and an overpowering fastball, he earned a couple of spot starts in Detroit and was expected to receive a September recall but instead had to be shut down because of a tired shoulder. The Tigers consider the move precautionary and expect Verlander to compete for a rotation spot this spring.
For a while this offseason it appeared as if the Tigers wouldn't be able to sign Verlander and the team even announced at one point that it had no plans of signing its top 2004 pick. The two sides eventually came to an agreement. Verlander has the arm strength to push 100 mph, but he's still relatively raw and needs to work on his command. He will make his pro debut in 2005.
: Verlander probably has the best stuff in the draft with a fastball routinely worked in the mid 90s that can get up to the 100 mph mark combined with a hard-change that’s deceptive and a developing deep-curve. His downfall has been a lack of command as he has a rushed delivery than can be difficult to replicate for an entire game.
More Fantasy News
Takes loss in pennant clincher
PHouston Astros
October 19, 2018
Verlander gave up four runs on seven hits with two walks over six innings and took the loss against the Red Sox in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. He struck out four.
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Named Game 5 starter
PHouston Astros
October 16, 2018
Manager A.J. Hinch said Verlander will start Game 5 of the ALCS against the Red Sox on Thursday, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
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Takes hill for Game 1 of ALCS
PHouston Astros
October 10, 2018
Verlander will start Game 1 of the ALCS against Boston on Saturday, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
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Earns the win
PHouston Astros
October 5, 2018
Verlander (1-0) gave up two runs on two hits and two walks over 5.1 innings in a win over the Indians in Game 1 of the American League Division Series. He struck out seven.
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Fans 10 in quality start
PHouston Astros
September 29, 2018
Verlander struck out 10 and allowed three hits and a walk across six scoreless innings during Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader against the Orioles. He did not factor in the decision.
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