Justin Verlander has been one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball for almost 15 years. Verlander has accomplished a lot over his lengthy career: Cy Young awards, an MVP award, big postseason starts, and a World Series championship in 2017 with the Houston Astros. But the 2022 postseason hasn’t been kind to the longstanding ace.
Verlander has been hit around over his three starts this postseason. While he twirled a gem in Game 1 against the New York Yankees, he has looked shaky otherwise. He allowed 10 hits and six earned runs in four innings against the Seattle Mariners in Game 1 of the ALDS. Then, in Game 1 of the World Series, Verlander allowed six hits and five runs over five innings against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Despite this, his manager remains confident in him. Dusty Baker spoke to the media before Game 5 of the World Series on Thursday. Baker expressed confidence and took on the question and thought of Verlander having a “short leash.”
Dusty Baker: “Everyone is wondering if he has a short leash. He doesn’t have a leash at all. He’s Justin Verlander.”
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) November 3, 2022
“Everyone is wondering if he has a short leash. He doesn’t have a leash at all. He’s Justin Verlander,” Baker told reporters Thursday.
The expression of confidence in Baker’s ace isn’t necessarily wrong. But this is a huge swing game for the series, which is tied up at 2-2 after the Astros’ combined no-hitter on Wednesday. While it’s a small sample size, Verlander hasn’t fared well over his last three World Series starts. In 16 innings of work across those three starts, Verlander has allowed 12 earned runs, good for an ERA of 6.75.
Several reactions from the MLB world, varying in hope and pessimism, rolled out in response to Baker’s quote:
One of many reasons to love Dusty Baker. You ride with your best. https://t.co/n9NZeRZ4RM
— Schuyler Dixon (@apschuyler) November 3, 2022
— The Crawfish Boxes (@CrawfishBoxes) November 3, 2022
Well that explains Game 1. https://t.co/GB8D5DwGpO
— Chris Thomasson – KIII Sports (@ChrisThomasson7) November 3, 2022
Taking a big sip of water and looking up Verlander's career ERA in the World Series https://t.co/tFYjiw7aK2
— Nick Stellini (@StelliniTweets) November 3, 2022