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DeGrom-Scherzer Opening Day matchup lives up to billing

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On Tuesday, I highlighted a few of the Opening Day starting pitching matchups that piqued my interest. The first one was Mets-Nationals, which featured 2018 National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom squaring off against NL Cy Young runner-up Max Scherzer.

deGrom only won 10 games last year, but paced baseball with a 1.70 ERA along with a 269/46 K/BB ratio across 217 innings. The performance netted him 29 of 30 first-place votes. The right-hander also recently inked a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension with the Mets.

Scherzer, meanwhile, led baseball in innings pitched (220 2/3), strikeouts (300), complete games (two), and shutouts (one). He led the NL in wins (18), WHIP (0.911), and K/9 (12.2). 2018 marked his third consecutive year finishing first or second in Cy Young balloting, and his sixth consecutive top-five finish.

Both starters delivered on Opening Day on Thursday in D.C. deGrom got the best of Scherzer as the Mets won 2-0. deGrom tossed six shutout innings, limiting the Nationals to five hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts. Scherzer yielded two runs on two hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. Second baseman Robinson Canó accounted for both of the Mets’ runs, lifting a solo home run in the top of the first inning and adding an RBI single in the eighth.

The other marquee matchup today also features Nos. 1 and 2 in AL Cy Young balloting: the Rays’ Blake Snell opposite the Astros’ Justin Verlander.

Welcome back, baseball.

Justin Verlander named 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner

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Astros starter Justin Verlander was voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America as the 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner. Teammate Gerrit Cole finished in a close second place at 159 points. Charlie Morton finished third at 75 points, Shane Bieber fourth at 64, Lance Lynn fifth at 18, Eduardo Rodríguez and Lucas Giolito sixth at eight, and Mike Minor eighth at seven.

Verlander, 36, won the AL Cy Young Award (and AL MVP Award) in 2011 with the Tigers). He and Cole became the first pair of teammates to finish first and second on the ballot for the AL Cy Young Award. Four NL teammates accomplished the feat: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2001 and ’02, Don Newcomb and Sal Maglie in 1956, and Mike Marshall and Andy Messersmith in 1974.

During the regular season, Verlander led all starting pitchers in wins (21), games started (34), innings pitched (223), and WHIP (0.803). He also compiled a 2.58 ERA with a 300/42 K/BB ratio. Along with a 300-strikeout season, Verlander achieved other milestones, including reaching 3,000 strikeouts for his career and 200 career postseason strikeouts (an all-time record).

2019 was not without controversy for Verlander, a future Hall of Famer, as he had a well-publicized disagreement with Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. He tried to have Fenech barred from the clubhouse during media availability despite the collective bargaining agreement ensuring access to BBWAA-credentialed reporters. It was one of many Astros-related scandals in 2019.

Verlander is the first Astro to win the Cy Young Award since Dallas Keuchel in 2015. Roger Clemens (2004) and Mike Scott (1986) also won the award back when the Astros were in the National League.