2022 World Series: Ben Verlander’s takeaways from Astros’ Game 5 win

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Ben Verlander

FOX Sports MLB Analyst

The Houston Astros held off the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 on Thursday in Game 5 of the 2022 World Series.

The Astros now hold a 3-2 series lead heading into Saturday’s Game 6 in Houston (8 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App).

Let’s get to a few takeaways from Houston’s victory.

1. Justin Verlander‘s performance

He picked up his first career World Series win in front of his family on the road. After the punch in the face immediately from Kyle Schwarber, it was wildly impressive that he was able to buckle down and come back from that. I was so impressed in his ability to make adjustments and pitch his way out of jams. 

Justin Verlander shares a heartfelt moment with his brother

Justin Verlander shares a heartfelt moment with his brother

Astros ace Justin Verlander reflects on his first World Series win and shares a postgame moment with his brother, Ben. 

His ability to get the outs when Houston needed them most. I can’t speak highly enough of his outing. That bases-loaded strikeout to Rhys Hoskins — that was unbelievable. Schwarber came back up in a big spot, and he punched him out with a curveball. 

Once he settled in, the rest was history. You could see it, something switched, and no Phillies were getting a hit off him.

2. Dusty Baker’s decision to stick with Verlander

Baker had an incredible night. He kept sitting guys down who were warming up in the bullpen to keep Justin in. Baker trusted him to go out there and to get that done in that situation, and I thought leaving Justin in was an awesome decision.

3. Holding Astros bullpen

I can’t speak highly enough about the way Baker used the bullpen throughout the game. As with Justin, Rafael Montero has been a guy for Baker all season. He let him do his thing before turning to Ryan Pressly, which I believe was a great call in the eighth inning. 

The Astros manager wasn’t afraid to let his closer go and get five outs. He gave Montero a chance, which didn’t work out with Jean Segura getting that hit, and he pivoted. Baker was masterful and deserves a lot of credit for the handling of the Houston bullpen.

4. Jeremy Peña‘s composure

He is a rookie playing in the World Series, and this guy is acting like a 10-year veteran. The Astros are a World Series or two from being considered a dynasty, and Peña felt like the heartbeat of the Astros tonight. Peña has yet to meet a moment that has been too big for him this World Series. 

He is the first rookie shortstop to hit a home run in World Series history, but he also played some incredible defense as well. He’s a rookie experiencing all of this for the first time, and he’s excelling game after game.

World Series: Jeremy Peña’s special night

World Series: Jeremy Peña's special night

Ben Verlander analyzes Jeremy Peña’s incredible Game 5 World Series performance.

5. Stretching Noah Syndergaard

Heading into Game 5, Syndergaard hadn’t thrown more than three innings in a month, so I think his usage was great. He really settled in, and there was no need for the Phillies to stretch it. 

The Phillies tried to sneak that last out with him because he has been doing so well, but it obviously didn’t work out in his favor with Peña’s home run. I would’ve gone to Connor Brogdon at the top of the fourth inning. Syndergaard was brilliant, but I think the Phillies should’ve taken him out earlier. 

6. A challenge to Houston fans

This Philadelphia crowd tonight was so special. There was a moment when I was on my feet for four straight innings, and no one sat down. The Houston fans needs to up their game if they want to compete with Philly fans.

7. Zack Wheeler vs. Framber Valdez in Game 6

What a phenomenal rematch we’re getting after seeing this pair in Game 2. I think Wheeler’s arm is dragging a bit. I’m going to keep an eye on his velocity in Game 6, and I encourage fans to as well. 

If Wheeler is himself, we’re going to get one of the best postseason pitching matchups Saturday night.

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