It’s not surprising that a perennial All-Star like Justin Verlander would get the nod to start for the Houston Astros on Opening Day. But it’s still important.
This is the 11th time in his illustrious that Verlander has been asked to start the first game of the season. That’s tied for the 10th most Opening Day starts in MLB history (Verlander is now matched with Felix Hernandez, Fergie Jenkins, Dennis Martinez and CC Sabathia).
“Most of us were probably aware I would most likely be starting Opening Day, but [manager A.J. Hinch] does a good job of putting things in perspective,” Verlander told MLB.com. “When he called me into the office, he was like, ‘Congratulations, this is your 11th. Think about that.’ It’s really cool to have him relay the importance of certain things to make you appreciate it more.”
Verlander will square off against the New York Yankees, and reigning Cy Young award winner, Blake Snell, who edged Verlander by 15 votes to capture the award. So, it’s Fantastic Pitcher #1 vs. Fantastic Pitcher #2, which should be a pretty sweet showdown. Think Batman vs. Superman, but, you know, without the obvious issues with pacing plot development, and CGI craziness.
“It should be a great matchup,” Verlander said of his showdown with the Yankee ace. “I don’t think you get, too often, No. 1 and No. 2 going at each other on Opening Day.”