Verlander caps comeback year with third Cy Young

by Daryn Albert - Astros ace Justin Verlander captured the third Cy Young Award of his career Wednesday, wrapping up a comeback season in which he led the AL with 18 wins and a 1.75 ERA.

Astros' Justin Verlander unanimously wins third Cy Young Award 7:46 PM ET Alden GonzalezESPN Staff Writer Close ESPN baseball reporter. Covered the L.A. Rams for ESPN from 2016 to 2018 and the L.A. Angels for from 2012 to 2016. Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander was unanimously voted the American League Cy Young Award winner on Wednesday, capping a brilliant bounce-back season that saw him reach unprecedented heights. Verlander beat out Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox and Alek Manoah of the Toronto Blue Jays . Verlander's Cy Young, the third of his career, came at the end of his age-39 season, after spending most of the past two years recovering from Tommy John surgery. Verlander led the AL in wins (18) and led the majors in both ERA (1.75) and WHIP (0.83), fronting a deep Astros pitching staff that helped secure a championship. Editor's Picks Alcantara delivers 1st Cy Young Award for Marlins 20m David Schoenfield 1 Related His ERA was the best by a pitcher who made a minimum of 25 starts in his age-39-or-older season since earned runs became official in both leagues in 1913. Verlander became the second-oldest pitcher to lead the majors in ERA, topped only by a 43-year-old Roger Clemens in 2005. His 1.75 ERA was the lowest by an AL pitcher in a full season since Pedro Martinez had a 1.74 ERA in 2000. Verlander, now a free agent, completed at least six innings in 22 of his 28 starts and accumulated 175 innings during the regular season, striking out 185 batters and walking only 29. He followed with an up-and-down performance in the ensuing postseason but overcame shaky command to contribute five innings of one-run ball against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5 of the World Series, a major step in ultimately attaining his second title. Verlander, who previously won the Cy Young Award in 2011 and 2019, is the 11th player to win it three or more times. The only one among them who is not in the Hall of Fame despite being eligible is Clemens, notoriously tied to performance-enhancing drugs. Verlander's third came in the most unlikely of ways -- near the end of his career, on the heels of major elbow surgery. He became the second non-rookie ever to make a minimum of 15 starts and post a sub-2.00 ERA despite not pitching in the majors the previous season, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. The other was Fred Toney, who had a 1.58 ERA for the 1915 Cincinnati Reds after pitching in the minor leagues the previous year. Cease went 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA and 227 strikeouts. Manoah went 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA, the second-lowest mark in Blue Jays history. But Verlander was at the top of his class once again.