Credit: USA Today Sports. Pictured: Cole Hamels
We won’t have the drama of the Red Sox and Yankees on Friday night, but there are plenty of other intriguing storylines. The one you might hear the most about? Matt Harvey will get the start for the Reds in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Yes, that Matt Harvey. The one with the third-highest ERA among all pitchers (min. 200 innings) since the start of the 2016 season.
That’s a lot of dark nights in New York.
On the other end of the pitching spectrum, we have a number of aces on the mound Friday in Chris Sale, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. We will focus on the latter, who will face Cole Hamels in Houston. We will also analyze a game in Coors between two second place NL clubs. Let’s dive in.
Texas Rangers (+231) at Houston Astros (-261) | O/U: 8
Cole Hamels (1-4, 3.94 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (4-1, 1.17 ERA)
8:10 p.m. ET
This Just In: Casual baseball fans always seem surprised to learn that Justin Verlander is a fly-ball pitcher. Just take a look at the 10 hurlers with the highest fly-ball rates since 2016.
Didn’t expect to see Scherzer and Verlander on that list? Well, maybe it will make more sense when you look at the lowest HR/FB rates over that same period.
It’s one thing to put the ball in the air, but it’s another to hit it out. Batters simply don’t barrel Verlander up. While he’ll give up an occasional home run (1.18 per 9 last season), it usually won’t kill him — since he rarely allows baserunners. — Stuckey