Justin Verlander Trade to Houston Astros Shifts World Series, Division Odds

Justin Verlander Trade to Houston Astros Shifts World Series, Division Odds article feature image

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Verlander #35 of the New York Mets, Dusty Baker Jr. #12 of the Houston Astros.

Justin Verlander is reportedly headed back to the Houston Astros via trade as the New York Mets continue to move players ahead of tonight's trade deadline.

Jeff Passan of ESPN first reported the move, which will send Verlander back to Houston where he won two World Series titles and an MVP. The Mets will receive outfielders Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford in the trade.

Verlander was 6-5 in 16 starts with the Mets this season with a 3.15 ERA; three of those six wins came in the last 13 days. He joins an Astros pitching staff that ranks fifth in the league in wins (60), ERA (3.82) and strikeouts (982) and fourth in quality starts (50).

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The news of Verlander's return to Houston had an immediate impact on the Astros' odds. The Astros were +120 to win the American League West, +460 to win the AL pennant and +850 to take the World Series on Monday evening. As of this writing, their World Series odds have dropped to +700, and they are +340 to win the AL pennant and -130 to win the West, overtaking the Texas Rangers, who were the favorites and also acquired a now-former Mets pitcher, Max Scherzer.

Entering Tuesday's games, the Astros are a half-game behind the Rangers in the AL West standings and a game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL wild card race.

What will the Verlander trade mean for those looking to bet Houston's futures? We turned to Action MLB expert Anthony Dabbundo for his analysis.

Verlander Trade Analysis

Now that both José Altuve and Yordan Alvarez have returned from injury, the Astros starting rotation was clearly the biggest area that needed to be addressed entering the trade deadline. The Astros traded for the reigning AL Cy Young who just won the World Series with them in November, but there is some evidence that Verlander is no longer a top end starter or elite ace.

Injuries to Lance McCullers, José Urquidy and the ineffectiveness of Cristian Javier forced the move, but Verlander has his lowest fastball velocity of his career and his strikeout rate has dropped from 27.8% in 2022 to 21% this season. As a pitcher who had very elite 34-35% strikeout rates in 2018 and 2019, the consistent decline tracks closely with a loss in fastball velocity.

Verlander has allowed just 0.62 HR/9 and 0.86 HR/9 his last 1.5 years with the Astros and Mets, but the rest of season projection systems expect the home runs to return against him. THE BAT has him with a 3.87 rest of season ERA. Once adjusting for a slight park downgrade, Verlander is around the 15-20th best starter.

It’s true that Verlander still has two good breaking ball pitches and plus command that should make him a top 20 starter for the rest of the season. He should help the Astros keep pace with the Rangers in the AL West, but I’m skeptical he’s a true difference maker. Verlander already had a past homer issue in the playoffs and while the sample is small, it could be exacerbated with the stuff decline.

I mean, I'm not *not* worried about this pic.twitter.com/P6Qx3HYrLA

— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) August 1, 2023

I’m going to wait and see on Verlander and the Astros before betting on or against them.

If you're wondering how the trade deadline frenzy will impact Tuesday's MLB betting slate, check out the latest episode of our Payoff Pitch podcast for betting picks from Sean Zerillo and Anthony Dabbundo. 

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