Tonight’s match-up of the Astros and Rays will be an intriguing battle between two top pitchers and former teammates Justin Verlander and Charlie Morton.
This should be one of those great games to watch if your real baseball fan. I know some people might complain that low scoring games are boring to watch. But with Astros ace Justin Verlander up against Charlie Morton, the ace of the Rays pitching staff, this is set up to be the pitchers’ duel of all pitchers’ duels.
Morton will be making his return to Minute Maid Park for the first time since leaving the Astros this past offseason. It will be a bittersweet moment for “Uncle Charlie” coming back to pitch against a team and a city where he was so loved and revered. A team and a city where he played an instrumental role in earning him and the Astros a World Series ring.
But being the consummate professional that he is, once he steps onto that pitcher’s mound, it will be all business. All emotions will be tucked away and he’ll do his best to defeat the Astros and his former teammates.
The two-time All-Star turned his career around here in Houston and had two great seasons with the Astros. But this year with Tampa Bay, he’s having the best season of his 12-year career and is one of the top candidates for the American League Cy Young Award.
Morton has put together a 13-5 record with a 2.85 ERA and is leading the League in FIP (2.70) and has the lowest HR/9IP ratio of 0.7. He is in the top ten in most statistics among AL pitchers and ranks in the top five of many of them.
Justin Verlander is also one of the top contenders for the Cy Young Award and by most experts opinions, he’s leading the pack. He has the upper hand in ERA with a 2.77 and also bests Morton with a 15-5 record. Verlander is tops in the League with 239 strikeouts along with a 0.806 WHIP the lowest in the League.
He just completed one of his finest games of the season pitching a complete game, striking out eleven, while allowing just two hits. Unfortunately, those two hits went for home runs and he ended up losing the game 2-1.
If Verlander has any downfalls to the season, his penchant of giving up the long ball is it. Unlike Morton, Verlander has surrendered more homers than anyone in the League and has a 1.7 HR/9IP ratio. But on the other end of the spectrum, he is on a streak of seven straight games with double-digit strikeouts.
It’s a classic match-up no doubt and should be an entertaining duel to watch. I’d hate to see Morton struggle badly against this potent offense, but of course, you want to get the win. Maybe something like a 3-1 Houston victory with the Tampa Bay bullpen surrendering most of those runs.