Astros RHP Justin Verlander wins AL Cy Young Award for third time

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander became the 11th pitcher to win three or more Cy Young Awards on Wednesday when he was announced as the unanimous American League winner on MLB Network.

The 39-year-old became the 16th unanimous Cy Young winner just an hour after National League winner Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins became the 15th.

Verlander received all 30 first-place votes and the maximum 210 points in balloting by 30 Baseball Writers Association of America voters.

Chicago White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease (97 points) was second, Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah (87) finished third and Los Angeles Angels right-hander Shohei Ohtani (82) was fourth.

Verlander missed the 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery and returned this season to lead the majors with a 1.75 ERA while compiling an 18-4 record. He struck out 185 in 175 innings and made the All-Star team for the ninth time.

“What a journey this has been from the start of my Tommy John,” Verlander said on MLB Network. “… I really just tried to enjoy this ride and appreciate every moment because it was almost taken away from me. It makes it all worth it.”

After being injured in 2020, Verlander didn’t know how things would work out, but he said he focused on his family and keeping positive vibes in his rehab.

He is now a free agent and doesn’t see his career ending soon.

“I think about it almost every day, which is why I’m working so hard,” Verlander said of how much longer he will pitch. “… For me, the one thing I can focus on is to continually adapt and be the best version of myself.”

Verlander also won the award in 2011 with the Detroit Tigers and 2019 with the Astros. He was also a unanimous winner in 2011 when he was named AL MVP.

Rogers Clemens holds the record of seven Cy Young Awards while Randy Johnson won five and Steve Carlton and Greg Maddux each won four.

Those to win three are Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Pedro Martinez, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and now Verlander.

This is just the second time both the NL and AL winners were unanimous choices in the same year. The other time was 1968 when Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers was the AL winner and Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals won the NL award.

Verlander has won two of Houston’s five Cy Youngs. The others are Dallas Keuchel (2015) in the AL and Mike Scott (1986) and Clemens (2004) when the Astros were in the NL.

Manoah, 24, went 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA in his second major league season. The All-Star struck out 180 in 196 2/3 innings.

Cease, 26, went 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA that was second in the AL behind Verlander. He struck out 227 in 184 innings and set a major league record with 14 consecutive starts of allowing one or fewer earned runs.

Ohtani, 28, compiled a 15-9 record and 2.33 ERA while also again serving as a hitter for the Angels. He struck out 219 in 166 innings.

Astros left-hander Framber Valdez (14 points) placed fifth.

–Field Level Media

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