Justin Verlander shut down the Twins last night, holding Minnesota to one run in eight innings while improving to 13-5 with a 2.24 ERA.
He also threw 126 pitches, which would be a noteworthy workload for just about anyone but Verlander, as he’s thrown at least 125 pitches five times this season and has yet to throw fewer than 100 pitches in a start this season.
In fact, as Brandon Warne of Fan Graphs points out Verlander has now thrown at least 100 pitches in 40 consecutive starts dating back to the middle of last season.
Pitch count data is only available going back a couple decades, but Verlander’s streak of 40 straight 100-pitch outings is the most of any pitcher during that time. Via the always amazing Baseball-Reference.com Play Index here’s the leaderboard for consecutive 100-pitch starts since 1988:
JUSTIN VERLANDER 2010-2011 40
Randy Johnson 1998-1999 38
Randy Johnson 1992-1993 37
Felix Hernandez 2009-2010 32
Randy Johnson 1999-2000 30
Carlos Zambrano 2005-2006 30
At the risk of taking attention away from Verlander’s remarkable feat: Randy Johnson was ridiculous.
Last time Verlander failed to throw at least 100 pitches was June 22 of last season, when the Mets chased him from the game after two innings. And before that he’d gone 12 straight starts with 100-plus pitches, so Verlander has now thrown at least 100 pitches in 52 of his last 53 outings, during which time he’s 31-14 with a 2.73 ERA and 372 strikeouts in 379 innings.
Here we are, the final day of the regular season. And every game with playoff implications will start at the same time: 3:05 p.m. ET. What to watch …
American League Wild Card
NYY @ BAL
HOU @ ARI
LAA @ TEX
This is where the most intrigue lies heading into the day. We have the Yankees currently in position for hosting duties, but they’re only one game up on Houston. And then Houston is only one game up on Anaheim. Also at play here is that the Astros are just one game back of the Rangers in the American League West standings. If the Yankees, Astros, and Rangers all win on Sunday the current postseason map stays the same — the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday will be at Yankee Stadium with the Astros visiting. And the Angels would obviously be out. But if the Angels win and the Astros lose, we’ll have a play-in game Monday. And if the Yankees lose, the location of the Wild Card Game on Tuesday could change.
American League West
HOU @ ARI
LAA @ TEX
As we touched on above, the Astros are still in a position to force a tiebreaker for the division if the Angels beat the Rangers again in Arlington. It’ll be Garrett Richards against Cole Hamels in that one. Houston is throwing Lance McCullers vs. Robbie Ray in Arizona.
American League Best Record
KC @ MIN
TOR @ TB
If the AL Central-champion Royals (94-67) beat the Twins on Saturday behind deadline acquisition Johnny Cueto, they’ll get the Wild Card Game winner in the ALDS and clinch homefield advantage throughout the postseason. But if they lose, the Blue Jays (93-68) could move into that top seed because they won their season series against Kansas City 4-3. Mark Buehrle is pitching for Toronto in what is supposed to be his final major league game.
National League Wild Card
CIN @ PIT
CHC @ MIL
Pittsburgh losing and Chicago winning on Saturday kept Wild Card Game hosting duties alive for Wrigley Field. If the Pirates fall again to the Reds and the Cubs win at Miller Park, the game Wild Card Game Wednesday will be in Chicago because the Cubs have the season-series edge (11-8) over the Bucs. Pittsburgh can wrap up clinching duties with a victory behind J.A. Happ.
Stay tuned. We’ll be covering all angles as the 2015 regular season comes to a close.
There was a pretty cool moment in Saturday’s game between the Reds and Pirates.
A.J. Burnett has announced that this will be his final season, so his start Saturday at PNC Park might have been the last time he ever pitches off a major league mound. (Pittsburgh has to make it through the Wild Card Game to get the 38-year-old right-hander another turn).
Aware of all this, Joey Votto made eye contact with Burnett just before his at-bat in the top of the first inning and gave a tip of the cap. Er, batting helmet …