Justin Verlander is clearly enjoying his new life as part of the defending World Series champion.
The Houston Astros star was not about to stay quiet after MLB Network's Chris Russo effusively praised the New York Yankees – who may well be Houston's biggest obstacle toward repeating as AL champion – during a segment on Tuesday afternoon.
“There’s no way you can’t think that the Yankees are the team to beat in the American League,” Russo said of the new-look Bronx Bombers, who are now led by the powerful (and gigantic) duo of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
Cue an incredulous Verlander, who had good reason to take issue with Russo’s viewpoint and used the opportunity to take an early-spring jab at the Yankees on Twitter.
Not only did the Astros beat the Yankees in last year's ALCS, but Verlander was named MVP of that series after shutting them down to the tune of an 0.56 ERA, 21 strikeouts, and a complete-game gem in Game 2.
On Wednesday, the 34-year-old put away his phone and doubled down on his words in front of reporters at the Astros’ spring complex.
“Everybody’s gotta say stuff to get views, or get likes, or get whatever,” Verlander said, according to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. “Obviously I think we’re the team to beat, but I don’t really care whose opinion, especially people that don’t play.
“I think the American League goes through us. Obviously you know the old saying, ‘To be the best you’ve gotta beat the best,’ and I think we proved we were last year.”
Verlander won’t have to wait long for a rematch with the Yankees, who are scheduled to visit Houston on April 30.
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