Game 1 of the ALDS is approaching fast for the Astros.
Let’s start with one statement: Astros manager A.J. Hinch has selected Justin Verlander to start Game 1 of the ALDS.
This comes as no surprise to fans, the vetern right-hander will lead the charge for a championship Thursday afternoon. Verlander pitching Game 1 sets him up to throw Game 5, if necessary.
Verlander has faced the Red Sox twice this season, going 1-1. His April 10th start was the better of the two appearance, throwing 7 innings of 1 run ball. On June 10th, Boston scored 3 runs on the veteran in his five inning outing. However, he is one of the hottest pitcher in baseball right now.
Divisional series have been kind to Verlander. In his postseason career, he is 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA in the ALDS appearances. He plans to build upon this success as the Astros pursue their first ALCS appearance in franchise history.
Battle of Elite Pitchers
According to ESPN, Chris Sales will take the mound opposite of Verlander in Game 1. This will be a classic matchup of elite pitching, in a potentially low-scoring affair. However, Sale has been a bit off-tune in his most recent appearances. He is 4-4 through August and September with a 4.05 ERA during this time. And the Astros boast one of the best offensive lineups in baseball, so Sale will be in for a huge test early in this series.
Since joining the Astros, Verlander has simply been electric. His 5-0 record with a 1.06 ERA has changed the game for the Astros. He has found great form heading into the postseason, forcing opponents to work harder to get a win. Still, he will face a Red Sox lineup that is capable of driving in runs, so he will have to stay at the top of his game.
An Unbelievable Moment for Houston
Last but certainly not least, this game will be the beginning of a much-needed break from tragedy and struggle. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the city of Houston will come together to root on their Astros, and watch one of the best pitchers in the game take the mound for their team.
As the old saying goes, “How can you not be romantic about baseball?”
***Stats and data courtesy of ESPN, MLB.com and Baseball Reference***