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Can the Yankees finally get over the Verlander hump?

(Photo: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports)

It’s no secret that Justin Verlander has had a long history of facing and winning against the New York Yankees in the playoffs. It dates back to when Verlander was a rookie with Detroit in the 2006 playoffs, where Detroit would end up getting to the World Series. Verlander wasn’t the same player then as a rookie, but it was the first time the Yankees got to see him. Now, this is Verlander’s fifth different playoff series against the Yankees.

Verlander made the Yankees look silly in the 2017 postseason where Verlander arguably single handily won the series for the Astros, making Houston fans ecstatic that they made the trade for JV at the last possible minute. Verlander had a .56 ERA in his 2 starts in that ALCS. He pitched his second game in that series in a must-win game where the Astros were back home, but down in the series 3–2. Verlander didn’t disappoint, winning them that game and allowing them to go to a game 7.

Overall, Verlander is 4–0 with a 2.33 ERA in six different starts against the Yankees in the postseason dating back to 2006.

Tonight, JV goes up against the Bronx Bombers once more. Verlander will most likely win the Cy Young award this year, having a record of 21–6 with a 2.58 ERA and pitching his third career no-hitter. All of this at 36 years of age. Verlander has redefined himself and his game when injuries were starting to pile up in Detroit and his velocity was slipping. A lot of pitchers just fall off at that point, or transition to the bullpen. Not JV. He got back to form and is once again one of the best pitchers in baseball.

It isn’t fair to group all of the past teams with this 2019 Yankee team. Even if Verlander has dominated this team, no matter who is on it, it isn’t fair to say he will do so again. This Yankee team has a chip on their shoulder, similar to how Houston was in 2017 when they won the World Series.

In the 2017 ALCS, no road team won at all. If you were wearing white in that series, you won every single time. That is already different in this year’s ALCS. The Yankees went into Houston and surprised everyone, winning the game 7–0. Led by the young star for New York, Gleyber Torres, who had 5 RBIs in Game 1.

(Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)

For Verlander, it is another game he must-win. He and the Astros cannot go to Yankee Stadium in New York and be down 0–2 in the series. Not to mention, they would go to New York for three games straight. It would be very hard to come away with two wins in a stadium the Yankees thrive in.

Weirdly, it feels like this is a must-win for the Yankees, too. It sounds ridiculous, right? The Yankees have already stolen one game in Houston, how is this game a must-win? It’s more about who’s on the mound tonight. This slump against Verlander could be all mental at this point for the Yankees. They need to get over the hill against Verlander, otherwise, they would have a hard time beating this Astro team in a 7 game series. The other Cy Young candidate, Gerrit Cole, will get the ball for game 3 which will be no easy task, either.

Even if the Yankees don’t beat Verlander directly, it would be huge to win this game 2. If they can somehow get to the bullpen and then win. They have to win against Verlander (or a Verlander start) to be able to make it to the World Series.

The 2019 New York Yankees have the perfect balance of youth and veteran leadership. Even some of the younger players have been here before, such as Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino. They have Brett Gardner who has been there, done that. He was on that 2009 World Series team along with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. This team has the right pieces and experience to win, it just depends on if they can get over the hump that is Justin Verlander.

We will find out tonight. First pitch is at 8:08 pm ET on FS1.



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