Justin Verlander Nov 3, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Kyle Schwarber (12) jogs around the bases after hitting a solo home run against Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) during the first inning in game five of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Verlander had a 1-0 lead before he ever took the mound for the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night. One hitter into his outing, that lead was gone and Verlander had made history — though not of the good kind.

Philadelphia’s lead-off man, Kyle Schwarber, led the bottom of the first inning off with a home run, driving a 0-1 pitch from Verlander into the right field seats.

That was the tenth home run Verlander allowed in World Series play, breaking a tie with Catfish Hunter for the most ever surrendered.

Baseball fans reacted strongly to Verlander setting the dubious mark.

These stats aren’t always all bad. If a pitcher allows a lot of home runs in the World Series, it’s a sign of some good things. One, his team is in the World Series a lot. Two, a pitcher surrendering that many home runs is probably good. If a bad pitcher is allowing home runs, he’s not going to be on the mound long enough to surrender too many.

That all checks out. Verlander has now pitched in five World Series. He pitched for the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 and 2012 World Series and has now toed the rubber for the Astros in 2017, 2019 and 2022. Also, the man he was tied with, Catfish Hunter, is in the Hall of Fame. Verlander is all but assured to join him in Cooperstown when his career is over.

But Hunter found success in the Fall Classic even while surrendering home runs. Verlander hasn’t done that. Beyond an 0-6 record, Verlander also had a 6.07 ERA and 1.326 WHIP coming into Game 5. Those are significantly worse than not only his career numbers, but well below the 3.08 ERA/1.127 WHIP that he has in his Division Series career and 3.01 ERA/0.955 that Verlander has in the League Championship Series.

Verlander is one of the greatest pitchers of his era and it’s remarkable that he’s pitching so well at 39 and coming off of Tommy John surgery.

The good news for Verlander is that his manager, Dusty Baker, has the utmost confidence in him. But his World Series track record definitely doesn’t fall in line with the rest of his career.

[Brian McTaggart]

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