“Just keep swimming,” Verlander, 35, told reporters on Thursday. “That’s me. Just keep pitching. Just head down, prepare myself and just keep pitching. And at the end of my career, hopefully when I look up and all is said and done, that’s cemented my legacy.”
For now, he’s focused on the task at hand: beating the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night.
Time after time, Verlander came up with big games when the Astros needed them most during a heated AL West race with the Oakland Athletics. He finished the season with a 16-9 record, 2.52 ERA (third in the AL) and career-high 290 strikeouts, which led the AL.
He earned the win in Game 1 of the Astros’ sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS.
“I think the goal is to be healthy and to be strong as long as I can,” Verlander told reporters, regarding his future in baseball. “I think as long as I pay attention to my body and I take care of things that typically would creep in and start to cause issues as you get older, I think you can address those early on.
“And I think treating that stuff before it becomes an issue is what makes it not become an issue, as easy as that sounds. But there’s no set number for me. I think I just want to pitch as long as I can.”
So just how long will that be for the seven-time All-Star and the winner of the 2011 MVP and Cy Young awards?
“I’ve had a great learning experience the last five years or so,” Verlander, who is signed with the Astros through 2020, told reporters. “And I think that’s going to be what prepares me for the second half of my career.
“I said second half, by the way.”