Justin Verlander vs. Stephen Strasburg a firepower matchup
When it comes to skins on the wall in his baseball career, there isn't much Justin Verlander is lacking.
Second pick in the MLB draft, a Cy Young Award, Most Valuable Player award, pitching triple crown and World Series champion dot his long list of accolades.
But there is something that has eluded Verlander: a win in the World Series.
The veteran righthander gets another chance at that Tuesday night when he starts Game 2 for the Astros against the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park.
In his career, Verlander has a 0-4 record in five World Series starts. Two years ago, Verlander started twice during the Astros' World Series victory over the Dodgers and turned in two quality starts but took a no-decision in Game 2 and a Game 6 loss when he only got one run of support.
While Verlander is a Fall Classic veteran, he acknowledged a nervous energy before he takes the ball in Game 2.
"You know that the nerves are going to be higher," he said. "Your body knows it's not a regular start. Going to sleep (Monday) is not going to be the same as normal. But having done it before, I don't know if it helps, it's definitely not going to calm you down any more, but I know what to expect going into it.
"And having a routine does definitely help because it's like from the minute I wake up I kind of start my routine and I guess that kind of helps calm the nerves just a little bit."
Verlander is 2-0 in his career against the Nationals, but those starts came eons ago in baseball years. Verlander last faced Washington on July 31, 2013 in Detroit. Third baseman Anthony Rendon, catcher Kurt Suzuki and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman are the only holdovers from the Nationals' lineup that night.
Against the potent Yankees, Verlander was 0-1 and gave up six runs in 13.2 innings over two ALCS starts - all via the home run. The lineup he'll face Tuesday had won six straight games by a 33-10 margin entering the World Series.
"I think they have a really good mix," Verlander said of the Nationals. "They have speed. They have power. They have patience. They have plate coverage. ... They present a lot of challenges for a starting pitcher, especially when you've got to get them out more than one time in multiple ways. And obviously the two guys (Rendon and Juan Soto) that are in the middle have kind of carried them thus far. Tough outs."
The 36-year-old Verlander will be opposed by essentially a younger version of himself in Nationals flamethrower Stephen Strasburg, 31. The first pick in the 2009 draft logged career highs with his National League-best 18 wins and 209 innings and his 251 strikeouts also marked a personal best.
"Man, what an unbelievable year he's had and what he's meant to us getting here," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "This guy has been the rock, he really has."
In four playoff appearances, including three starts, Strasburg has a 1.64 ERA and struck out 29 in 19 innings. He's made three career starts against the Astros, last facing them in the regular season Aug. 24, 2017, when he struck out seven in six shutout innings of a no-decision at Minute Maid Park.
"They've got a little bit of everything so I think it's just knowing how you want to attack certain guys and not just fall into the pattern of just throwing the same pitch to start guys off or finish guys and really just take it one pitch at a time and focus in on that," Strasburg said.
"I don't know - I've never done it before," he said of pitching in the World Series. "I know what I expect of myself. I'm going to hold true to that. That's all I can really control. My approach is everything and how I respond to whatever happens once the ball leaves my hand is just as important."
by: BEN WALKER, Associated Press Posted: / Updated: Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) delivers against the New York Yankees during the first inning of Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series, Tuesday,
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