Game 2 of the World Series figures to be another arms race between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros, with the clubs trotting out Rich Hill and Justin Verlander, respectively.
Verlander, acquired by the Astros at the waiver trade deadline, has been lights-out during the postseason, allowing just four runs in 24.2 innings — good for a 1.46 ERA. He holds a unique advantage over his fellow teammates in that he’s the only pitcher on the Astros’ staff to face the Dodgers this season.
On Aug. 20, in his third-to-final start as a member of the Detroit Tigers, Verlander dominated Los Angeles to the tune of one run over eight innings with nine strikeouts to one walk. The lone run scored by the Dodgers that day came off the bat of Curtis Granderson, who hit a solo home run off Verlander.
Granderson’s homer that clanked off the foul pole in right field broke up his former teammate’s no-hit bid. It’s also a bit of a moot point, as Granderson was was not included on the World Series roster.
Further more, the August outing isn’t carrying much weight in Verlander’s mind. “You know, I remember feeling good that day,” he recalled.
“I think I’ll probably look a little more into it, obviously. I remember Bellinger wasn’t in the lineup. So there are things that will be different. And obviously this is a completely different situation, being a World Series game, as opposed to a midseason matchup. To be honest with you, I’m not going to take a lot into that game.”
In five starts with the Astros during the regular season, Verlander pitched to a 1.06 ERA, 2.69 FIP and 0.65 WHIP in 34 innings with 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
He additionally posted a career-low 1.3 walks per nine and accumulated 1.8 WAR (Baseball-Reference) during the span.
Verlander yielded just one earned run in 16 innings against the New York Yankees during the American League Championship Series, tallying 22 strikeouts to two walks. His performance in the series earned him MVP honors.
Prior to being dealt to Houston, Verlander was often connected to the Dodgers in trade rumors. Though, a deal never came close to fruition.