HOUSTON, Texas – Former Old Dominion star Justin Verlander is back in a familiar position, but in an unfamiliar uniform.
The former Monarch makes his 17th MLB postseason start Thursday in the American League Division Series – but his first wearing a Houston Astros uniform. Houston traded for the former MVP, who had spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers, September 1st.
“To have the opportunity to once again be in the playoffs I could say I don’t take it for granted any more,” Verlander said Wednesday. “It seemed easy for awhile with the Tigers organization, especially going my first year to the World Series, so I appreciate every step of the way now even more, I think.”
Verlander, a native of Richmond, VA, left ODU as the all-time strikeout king in ODU, CAA and the Commonwealth of Virginia history with 427 strikeouts in 335.2 innings. The Tigers selected him with the number two overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft. His jersey was retired by ODU in 2010 and he was inducted into the ODU Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
Verlander draws the Boston Red Sox and their ace Chris Sale in game one of the best of five American League Division Series. While Verlander has logged 98.1 innings in postseason play during his career, Sale is making his playoff debut.
“I definitely think there is some value in it,” Verlander said of his postseason experience – including two starts in the 2006 World Series and one in the 2012 Fall Classic. “I think just more along the lines of knowing what to expect. I don’t think it’s going to help calming my nerves or give me an edge in that way, but knowing what I’m going to deal with, going into the start, how I’m going to feel during the start, how much more emphasis and stress is put on every single pitch, knowing those things I think helps prepare me better.”
Houston hosts games one and two before the series shifts to Boston for games three (Sunday) and four (Monday).