©Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This was probably just a formality. The defending World Series Champion Houston Astros have named Justin Verlander the opening day starter for the 2018 season.

Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch made it official earlier this month. For Verlander, this will be his tenth Opening Day assignment in the last eleven seasons– the previous nine coming with the Detroit Tigers. The Game 2 assignment for Keuchel ends a 3- year run for the lefty as Houston’s Opening Day starter.

Verlander was a key component in helping Houston claim its first World Series Title in franchise history. It was also announced the Dallas Keuchel would start game two of the regular season. Per Greg Thurston of 247sports.com, “The exact order of the rest of the rotation has yet to be revealed, but if everyone breaks camp healthy we’ll assume Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton will round out the starting five. That leaves Brad Peacock and Collin McHugh standing by in the Houston bullpen ready to fill any openings that may occur.”

The Houston Astros will be a heavy favorite to win the American League West and claim a second World Series Title in as many years. The Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 to become the first team from the state of Texas to accomplish a World Series title.

The 35-year-old right-hander is a six-time MLB All-Star and has led the AL in strikeouts four times. In 2006, Verlander was named the AL Rookie of the Year. On June 12, 2007, he pitched a no-hitter—the first ever at Comerica Park—against the Milwaukee Brewers. Verlander had his most successful season in 2011. He pitched his second career no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 7, 2011.

By season’s end, Verlander achieved the Pitching Triple Crown, and unanimously won the AL Cy Young Award, the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. and the Sporting News Player of the Year Award. On August 31, 2017, the Tigers traded Verlander to the Astros. For his performance in the 2017 American League Championship Series, he was named MVP.

Right before the MLB trade deadline, the Tigers sent Verlander to the Houston Astros for prospects Franklin Pérez, Jake Rogers, and Daz Cameron. Verlander won his Astros debut on September 5 against the Seattle Mariners, giving up one run and striking out seven over six innings.

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