Braves name Tommy Hanson as Opening Day starter

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Mark Bowman of MLB.com passes along word that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has officially tabbed Tommy Hanson to start Opening Day against the Mets next Thursday. It will be the first Opening Day assignment of his career.

Hanson was limited to just 22 starts last year due to right shoulder problems and missed the first couple weeks of camp after suffering a mild concussion in a one-car accident. Armed with a revamped delivery, the 24-year-old right-hander has a 2.57 ERA and 6/1 K/BB ratio over his first two official Grapefruit League starts. He’s making his final tuneup this afternoon against the Tigers.

Hanson will be followed in the rotation by Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy. Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran are currently competing for the fifth spot in the rotation while the newly-signed Livan Hernandez is expected to pitch in long relief.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.