The Houston Astros don’t have the best record in baseball. They may not have the best rotation in baseball, but they have two of the best starters in the game in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Both of them will be part of the six-pack representing the Astros at the 2019 All-Star game in Cleveland Tuesday night. The question before today was who would get the start for the American League team?
Alex Cora will be managing the AL squad this year after winning the World Series in 2018 as the Red Sox manager. With his time with the Astros, maybe he learned how to keep secrets. This was the case with the AL starter despite Dave Roberts naming Hyun-Jin Ryu the starter for the NL a while back. However, Cora has kept it quiet until just a few minutes ago.
Many assumed that it would be Verlander, but Charlie Morton, Lucas Giolito, and others were also candidates. Before the All-Star Media Day press conference began, Chandler Rome tweeted out that “the Astros now have a franchise record four All-Star starters.” I’m assuming he got the impression that Verlander is getting the start with his presence at the press conference.
The Astros now have a franchise-record four All-Star Game starters: Justin Verlander, Michael Brantley, George Springer and Alex Bregman.— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) July 8, 2019
Then the press conference began.
Cora said that he went with Verlander because of what he has done the first 2.5 years with the Astros. Cora also stated that “Verlander was a reason the Astros won the World Series in 2017.” You can tell that the relationship between the former bench coach and pitcher is still there despite the tough playoff matchup in 2018. Cora even joked that Verlander is still getting better, “which sucks for us.” Chris Sale has started for the AL for the past three seasons.
This will be the second time that Verlander will start the All-Star game. His first time as an Astros pitcher. His last All-Star game start was in 2012, and he is the first Astro pitcher since Dallas Keuchel did so in 2015. Last year he made the All-Star game but was ineligible to play because he pitched the Sunday before. Verlander was also labeled the All-Star “opener” by Cora, Verlander just smiled. He has been very outspoken of his dislike of the opener in the past.
Listen to the @LockedOnAstros podcast as I look back at the frantic win today, was Jake’s slide dirty, and a brief look at the need for a starting pitcher at the trade deadline. #Astros https://t.co/y8MskQUVSF— Eric Huysman (@EricTalksStros) July 8, 2019
Verlander is a leading candidate to win the Cy Young award in 2019, has a 10-4 record with a 2.98 ERA while striking out 153 hitters in 126 ⅔ innings. What is most surprising is the 26 homers that Verlander has allowed, but he has mostly done a good job limiting the base runners. At 36-years-old, Verlander is still bringing it every time he takes the hill. He wants to pitch till he’s 45, time will tell if that is possible.
In other news, George Springer will lead off for the Astros. Alex Bregman will bat sixth, and Michael Brantley will bat eighth. Don’t forget Gerrit Cole and Ryan Pressly will be in the bullpen to round out the rest of the Astros contingent in Cleveland. The All-Stros team should do well because of the Astros, but also the other talent surrounding them. Tonight, Bregman will participate in the Home Run Derby.