Sean Pendergast

Justin Verlander Named American League Pitcher of the Month For May

Justin Verlandet has been the best pitcher in baseball during these first two months of the MLB season.
Justin Verlandet has been the best pitcher in baseball during these first two months of the MLB season. Photo by Jack Gorman
Well, it was an interesting Saturday for Houston Astros' ace Justin Verlander, a Saturday that came with some good news and some bad news. First the bad news — Verlander pitched six innings of two-run baseball against the Red Sox and left the game with a 3-2 lead. Now, you're probably like "Wait, how is that bad news?" Well, that 3-2 lead was left in the hands of the Astros' bullpen.... and, we all know how that goes.

The final score? Red Sox 5, Astros 4. Another Verlander win scuttled by either the bullpen or a lack of run support. Horrible.

Now for the actual good news! For his herculean efforts in leading the best starting rotation in baseball through the month of May, Verlander earned his fifth American League Pitcher of the Month in his career....

Verlander's 0.86 ERA in the month of May fortified his overall ERA — currently, after Saturday night's game, at a microscopic 1.24 ERA — which has people talking about his individual 2018 season alongside names like Bob Gibson and Greg Maddux. Of course, the fact that Verlander is accomplishing his feats in the American League, without the benefit of an automatic out at the bottom of the opposition's lineup each time out, only magnifies what he's accomplished this season.

Bovada currently has Verlander as the favorite to win the American League Cy Young Award, with odds of 2 to 1. (NOTE: His Astro teammates Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton are among the favorites, as well, with 6 to 1 and 12 to 1 odds, respectively.) Since joining the Astros via trade last season, Verlander sports a 16-3 overall record, including playoffs, and an ERA of below 2.00.

Likely, fortifying Verlander's campaign for a second career Cy Young Award and, more so, a spot starting for the American League in the All Star Game is the Astros upcoming schedule, which, starting this Thursday, is tissue paper-level soft, with 37 games against teams whose current records are at or below — some, significantly below — the .500 mark:

Thu, Jun 7 @ Texas
Fri, Jun 8 @ Texas
Sat, Jun 9 @ Texas
Sun, Jun 10 @ Texas
Tue, Jun 12 @ Oakland
Wed, Jun 13 @ Oakland
Thu, Jun 14 @ Oakland
Fri, Jun 15 @ Kansas City
Sat, Jun 16 @ Kansas City
Sun, Jun 17 @ Kansas City
Mon, Jun 18 vs Tampa Bay
Tue, Jun 19 vs Tampa Bay
Wed, Jun 20 vs Tampa Bay
Fri, Jun 22 vs Kansas City
Sat, Jun 23 vs Kansas City
Sun, Jun 24 vs Kansas City
Mon, Jun 25 vs Toronto
Tue, Jun 26 vs Toronto
Wed, Jun 27 vs Toronto
Thu, Jun 28 @ Tampa Bay
Fri, Jun 29 @ Tampa Bay
Sat, Jun 30 @ Tampa Bay
Sun, Jul 1 @ Tampa Bay
Tue, Jul 3 @ Texas
Wed, Jul 4 @ Texas
Thu, Jul 5 vs White Sox
Fri, Jul 6 vs White Sox
Sat, Jul 7 vs White Sox
Sun, Jul 8 vs White Sox
Mon, Jul 9 vs Oakland
Tue, Jul 10 vs Oakland
Wed, Jul 11 vs Oakland
Thu, Jul 12 vs Oakland
Fri, Jul 13 vs Detroit
Sat, Jul 14 vs Detroit
Sun, Jul 15 vs Detroit

Trades for players like Verlander are largely judged by their impact on the season in which they're made, but the Astros are clearly reaping the less-discussed-at-the-time-of-the-trade benefit — Verlander's remaining two seasons on his deal, for which the Tigers are paying $16 million of the $56 million in salary over those two seasons.

Jeff Luhnow, take a bow.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast