To pitch in the Major Leagues is no small achievement. Every ballplayer dreams of getting to the Bigs. Millions play Little League and only a few make it to the collegiate level. And only a rare few of those get to the Majors. Pitching well at this level is a whole different monster.
On Sunday, Justin Verlander threw the third no-hitter of his career. Major League Baseball has only recognized 303 no-hitters, 260 in the modern era (starting 1901). The 2004 overall second pick has had an amazing career, possessing a record of 221-128, with an ERA of 3.34. He has struck out 2,963 batters in 2952.0 IP.
The 36-year old veteran of the Tigers and Astros has joined Larry Corcoran (3), Cy Young (3), Bob Feller (3), Sandy Koufax (4), and Nolan Ryan (7) in having tossed multiple no-hitters. That is some outstanding company to be shared.
Yes, the Astros are a monster team, ranking in the top-five in both scoring (5.57 RPG) and pitching (3.73 Team ERA). And yes, the rotation consists of one of the best staffs I have seen since the Braves staff of the ‘90’s (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Steve Avery and John Smoltz), with Verlander, Wade Miley (13-4), Zack Greinke (14-4), and Gerrit Cole (15-5).
But on a staff of superstars, Verlander stands out. In his 15th season, “JV” has a record of 17-5 with an ERA of 2.56. Watching Verlander pitch is an exciting honor.
I am also excited about going 2-0 in last week’s column to bring my current run here in the Gaming Today up to 16-5 the last nine weeks. Here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of Tuesday and may change as can starting pitchers):
Mets at Nationals: New York has certainly had Washington’s number, taking nine of the last 11 meetings against their division rival after Monday’s win. However, this is the time of year when cream rises to the top. The Mets entered this series (as of Monday) dropping seven of the last nine games overall, while the Nationals are on fire, winning four straight and 16 of the last overall 19 outings.
Zack Wheeler gets the road start here. The right-hander has a 9-7 record with an ERA of 4.41 on the season. The former San Francisco Giants first round draft pick has had his share of problems facing Washington in 2019, going 0-2 in four starts, yielding 20 runs in 22.2 IP against them.
Anibal Sanchez gets the nod at home. The right-hander (8-6, 3.80 ERA) is red-hot, sporting an 8-0 record over his last 17 turns.
The Mets are 3-7 the last 10 games played vs. teams with a winning record. The Nationals are 4-1 the last five games played vs. NL East opponents. NATIONALS
White Sox at Indians: These two AL Central rivals have played one another to three consecutive unders and seven unders in the last nine overall meetings. Neither team is hitting the cover off the ball as Chicago ranks 28th in scoring, averaging 4.20 RPG while Cleveland ranks 20th, accounting for 4.67 RPG.
Reynaldo Lopez takes the hill for the White Sox. The right-hander, despite a record of 8-12 with an ERA of 5.41, has pitched quite well over the last month and a half. The Dominican Republic native has held opponents to three runs or less in 10 of his last 13 turns, lasting at least 5.0 IP in each.
Zach Plesac takes the mound for the Indians. He’s 7-5 with an ERA of just, 3.61 on the campaign. The Ball State product has been money, allowing four runs or less in 16 of his 17 starts this season.
The under is 5-2 in Chicago’s last seven games played vs. righty starters and 8-3 in Cleveland’s last 11 games played at home. UNDER
Last week: 2-0