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Houston Astros: Justin Verlander looks to rewrite his World Series narrative

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 20: Justin Verlander
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 20: Justin Verlander /

Justin Verlander is set to take the ball for the Houston Astros in Game 2 of the World Series tonight, but will he be able to improve on past performances?

As many Detroit Tigers fans can tell you, they’ve been to the World Series a couple times in recent history. In 2006 they lost in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals, and in 2012 they were swept by the San Francisco Giants. Justin Verlander has made three World Series starts in his career, and has not fared well, totaling a 7.20 ERA across 15 innings.

In 2006, you could chalk up his poor first outing to nerves, being that this was his first World Series and all. His third start, against the Giants, seemed like some Angels in the Outfield magic with Pablo Sandoval going yard three times in Game 1, twice off of Verlander. It’s hard to come out ahead when the baseball gods apparently want you do lose.

What’s interesting is that second World Series start back in 2006. He went six frames and gave up three runs, but only one of them was earned. Considering that the Tigers lost by two, that’s a tough-luck loss more than anything.

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His best performance in the Fall Classic also came on five days of rest, which is much closer to the usual four a starting pitcher receives throughout the course of the regular season. Ahead of the first World Series start he had nine days off, and ahead of the 2012 start he had seven days off, thanks to the Tigers taking care of business in the American League Championship Series quickly both times.

This year the Houston Astros had to sweat out the ALCS to a Game 7, and that could be a big reason why we finally see the dominant Justin Verlander make an appearance this World Series.

This isn’t to say that the Houston Astros will definitely win tonight’s game – not by a long shot. As we saw on Tuesday night, these games could be very low-scoring and even a superb outing from Verlander could end in defeat. On the plus side for the ‘Stros bats, however, they won’t be up against Clayton Kershaw in Game 2, so the Houston offense should have a few more opportunities to produce.

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With a little more experience, a pretty good team around him and going on regular rest, it’s now or never for Verlander to show us what he can do on the game’s biggest stage.