Last night Justin Verlander won his 24th game of the season and with two or possibly three more starts left in the regular season we are watching history here. With his 24th win, be becomes the first person to do that since Randy Johnson in 2002 (who also had 24). If he hits 25 wins, he would be the first to do that since Bob Welch put up 27 in 1990.
From a historical perspective, he is certainly having a season to remember. Also he is now in some very elite company. I don’t want to jinx him, but in his short career, he has already amassed over 100 wins (107) and he is only 28. Over the past three seasons he has racked up 726 strikeouts and 61 wins, that alone puts him in some rarefied air. His performance this season reminds a lot of people of Roger Clemen’s 1986 season where he went 24-4 with 238 strikeouts in 254 innings pitched. This year Justin is 24-5 with 238 strikeouts in 238 innings.
As a child of the 70s there have been three pitcher’s seasons that have always stood out for me. Ron Guidry’s 25-3 season of 1978, Roger Clemen’s 1986 season and now Justin Verlander’s 2011 season. I’m sure there have been a lot of other great seasons along the way, but these three will be etched in my memory. Verlander actually reminds me of Clemens and Halliday when they were his age. A dominant force that seems to dictate how a game flows. A real game changer.
If I had to project out Verlander’s career from here, I would say he has a shot at between 200 – 215 wins, and could very well be a 3000+ strikeout pitcher. In this day and age, that would probably mean entry into the Hall of Fame. As for Verlander’s cards, they have gone up significantly since the season started. Before the season started I picked up a 2006 Sweet Spot signed ball for $15. That same card now will run you $45 – $50. In fact most of his autographs are going to set you back between $30 – $100. I think they are a bit high right now based on the incredible season he is having, but if this continues through next season, it might be on the low side.