Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers / Houston Astros
If there is one pitcher on this list that you could feel would go toe-to-toe with Clayton Kershaw over the last decade, it would be Justin Verlander. Since winning the American Leauge Rookie of the Year award in 2006, all he’s done is take home two Cy Young awards (placing second in the voting another three times) and an AL MVP trophy.
Over the course of his career, he has terrorized hitters by going 225-129 with a 3.33 ERA, a 3.41 FIP, and a 9.1 K/9 ratio. Even at 36-years-old and with 2982 innings of work under his belt, he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, as his last three seasons may have been his best yet, going 52-33 with a 2.81 ERA, a 3.28 FIP, and an 11.3 K/9 ratio in what should have been his twilight years on the mound.
Of course, the Angels have been no stranger to struggles against Verlander themselves. He’s made an astounding 29 career starts against Anaheim and holds a lifetime record of 15-10, a 3.23 ERA, and a 9.1 K/9 mark against them.
However, as this discussion is focused on the last decade, let’s get into that a bit. Since 2010, Verlander has held the Angels to a .235/.328/.246 slash line and owns an ERA of 2.85 during that time. His 157.2 innings of work against the Angels ranks second to only Felix Hernandez, and he’s used it efficiently by placing 3rd in K/9 (9.6), 9th in BB/9 (2.1). While Verlander has surrendered his share of flyballs to the Angels, he’s limited home runs to the tune of 1.0/9 IP.
Verlander has two more guaranteed years remaining in his latest contract with the Houston Astros. With a western division-heavy schedule in 2020, the Angels are apt to see quite a bit of the right-hander over the next year-plus, so they will either need to solve his wizardry or hope that he misses a start.