Astros to send Verlander to the mound for Opening Day vs. Tampa Bay

TAMPA BAY, FL— The Houston Astros open the 2019 season on the road at Tampa Bay Thursday. It’s a matchup of the AL Cy Young winner from 2018 (Rays’ Blake Snell) vs. the runner-up (Astros’ Justin Verlander).

It’s the 11th Opening Day start for Verland, which ties him with Felix Hernandez, Ferguson Jenkins, Dennis Martinez and CC Sabathia for the 10th most in MLB history.

Houston Astros (103-59, first in the AL West in 2018) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (90-72, third in the AL East in 2018)

The Astros finished 46-30 against AL West Division opponents in 2018. Houston pitchers had a WHIP of 1.10 last season while striking out 10.4 hitters per game. The Rays won the season series 4-3 in 2018.

The Rays went 41-35 in division play in 2018. Tampa Bay hit .258 as a team last year while averaging 8.7 hits per game.

Shortstop Carlos Correa was scratched from the team’s 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates because of a sore neck. The Astros don’t think the problem is serious, but there’s a chance that he won’t be ready for the start of the regular season on Thursday. Manager AJ Hinch said he was “uncomfortable” after being tagged in a rundown in Friday’s game.

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