In case you missed it, Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander threw his third career no-hitter on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays. This unbelievable accomplishment made me want to put into perspective how damn good this guy is.
First of all, let’s take a look at how rare a feat three no-hitters is. While 36 pitchers have thrown more than one no-hitter, only six in the history of Major League Baseball have thrown three or more. Then if you take out Larry Corcoran, who threw all three of his no-hitters around the time Mark Twain was publishing novels (1880s), you end up with five pitchers who have thrown more than two no-hitters (spoiler: these guys are pretty good). Nolan Ryan threw a remarkable seven, Sandy Koufax threw four in his short but amazing career and Bob Feller, Cy Young and now Justin Verlander have thrown three. That is some ultra-elite company to be in.
Verlander is the best American League pitcher of this generation without a debate, but the style in which he has done that has been incredible. He was drafted second overall in the 2004 draft by the Detroit Tigers, so there were high expectations of him from the start. When he broke into the big leagues full time in 2006, he began to shatter those high expectations.
Verlander won the AL Rookie of the Year in 2006, and he notched his first All-Star campaign as well as his first top-five finish in Cy Young voting the next season. Starting in 2009, he really began to elevate himself above the other pitchers around him. From 2009 to 2013, he put together five straight All-Star seasons, in which he won 91 games and struck out almost 1200 batters.
His 2011 season was the most dominant season that I personally have ever seen a pitcher accomplish. He went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts in 251 innings, winning the pitching Triple Crown. Verlander won both the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards that season. He threw his second career no-hitter that year, and every single time he took the mound that season, it seemed like he was flirting with another. He was my favorite pitcher to watch at that time because he pitched deep into games, and it seemed like he would get more dominant as the game went on.
After 2013, Verlander dealt with some injuries and was still very good, but not the best pitcher in the league as he once was. He had a great 2016 season, but he was snubbed of his second Cy Young Award. By mid-2017, it seemed like Verlander’s best days were behind him, but then he showed that a change of scenery can make a world of difference.
On Aug. 31, 2017, Verlander was traded to the Astros and since that day, he has been just as good if not better than he was in his “prime.” In 2017, he went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA after being traded. He then went on to have an incredible postseason, where he went 4-1, took home the ALCS MVP Award and led the Astros to their first World Series title.
I have never seen a pitcher recreate his prime in his mid-30s, but that is exactly what Verlander has done since arriving in Houston. He finished second in Cy Young voting after a phenomenal season last year, and currently he is on pace to win the Triple Crown for the second time in his career this year. He will likely win his second Cy Young Award this season (though he could easily have two more if it weren’t for some bad luck), and this third no-hitter is just icing on the cake.
Watching Verlander since he got traded to the Astros has reminded me so much of watching him during that historic 2011 season. He is probably the best pitcher in the game right now at age 36, which is insane.
Verlander is one of the greatest pitchers that we will ever see. I’m just very happy to have been a baseball fan for the duration of his tenure in the league. It’s been a lot of fun to watch.
When he finally decides to call it a career, Verlander will be a first-ballot hall of famer in Cooperstown. However, this latest accomplishment in his spectacular career has reminded us all that he is showing no signs of slowing down just yet.
Danny Barletta is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.