Justin Verlander to start Opening Day for Astros

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Astros manager A.J. Hinch said veteran Justin Verlander will start on Opening Day, the Houston Chronicle reports. The Astros begin the regular season on March 29 on the road against the Rangers. Presumably, Verlander will pitch opposite Cole Hamels in a battle among state rivals.

Verlander ends Dallas Keuchel‘s streak of three consecutive Opening Day starts for the Astros. This will be Verlander’s 10th career Opening Day start. The right-hander opened the season seven consecutive seasons from 2008-14 for the Tigers and twice more in 2016-17.

The Astros acquired Verlander at the end of August last season in preparation for the playoffs. The move paid huge dividends as Verlander posted a 1.06 ERA across five starts with the Astros to end the regular season. In the playoffs, Verlander held the opposition to nine runs across 36 2/3 innings. That included two solid starts against the Dodgers in Games 2 and 6 of the World Series, helping the Astros win their first ever championship.

Verlander, 35, is under contract for two more seasons, earning $28 million both years. He also has a vesting option for 2020 worth $22 million.