Justin Verlander had yet another great outing on Thursday. Over the course of his six innings pitched, the Houston Astros‘ ace allowed zero runs on two hits and a walk, striking out five, as he picked up his MLB leading15th win on the season.
Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander triggers 2023 player option by reaching 130 innings pitched
For someone with the kind of resume that he boasts, Thursday’s game seems like a normal outing. What made the performance significant is that Verlander was able to reach the 130 innings pitched mark for the season. Meaningless to most, Justin’s one year contract that he signed in the offseason for $25MM — when returning from Tommy John surgery — also includes a player option for 2023 to the tune of $25MM.
No matter what happens over the course of the next two months and the Astros playoff run, Verlander can exercise his option for the 2023 season. The way that he is pitching this season, it is unlikely that the option will be needed. Despite turning 40 next February, barring injury, Verlander will explore the free agent market, where he should fetch a large sum for his services.
This year, Verlander has been putting up amazing numbers, all while pitching for the first time in nearly two years due to the TJ surgery and rehab. Many people would have hung up the spikes at his age, but not Justin. He has come back, just as good or even better, than before. Currently, Verlander is the odds-on favorite to win the American League Cy Young Award (although Shane McClanahan – Tampa Bay Rays and possibly Dylan Cease – Chicago White Sox are still nipping at his heels).
Over the course of those all-important 130 innings pitched, Verlander has a record of 15-3, a 1.73 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 0.854 WHIP, and a 3.8 fWAR. He has struck out 127 opponents while only allowing a remarkable 23 walks.
The insurance of meeting the player option threshold for Verlander is nice. What all baseball fans hope is that he remains healthy and dominate the rest of this year and either resigns with the Astros at a higher price or takes his services elsewhere to add to his legacy. Verlander is currently ranked 24th all-time in career fWAR (75.7) for starting pitchers and 1st among active starters.
Adding — or retaining in the case of the Houston Astros — a first ballot Hall of Famer that is still pitching at such a high level will go a long way to building an organization’s rotation for 2023 and probably even beyond.