HOUSTON -- On Wednesday, Astros manager AJ Hinch set his pitching rotation for the first three games of the American League Division Series, with Justin Verlander getting the ball in Game 1 on Friday at Minute Maid Park. Gerrit Cole will start Game 2 on Saturday night in Houston, while Zack Greinke will pitch on the road in Game 3 on Monday.
“Not really news breaking when it comes to those three,” Hinch said. “I’m sure everybody could have predicted how we were going to go, and I wasn’t going to commit to a Game 4 [starter] quite yet. All those guys are prepared and ready to go.”
Verlander (21-6, 2.58 ERA) will be making his eighth postseason start with the Astros since coming over from Detroit in 2017. He is 13-7 with a 3.19 ERA in his career in the postseason, including 6-2 with a 2.83 ERA in eight postseason games (seven starts) with Houston. Verlander led the Majors in WHIP (0.80) and opponents’ average (.178) in 223 innings while striking out 300. He also threw his third career no-hitter on Sept. 1.
Cole, meanwhile, went 20-5 with an AL-leading 2.50 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP, .186 opponents’ average and 326 strikeouts in 212 1/3 innings. After a sluggish start, the hard-throwing right-hander went 16-0 with a 1.78 ERA in his final 22 starts of the season, striking out 226 batters in 146 2/3 innings. The Astros won each of Cole’s final 13 starts.
Greinke, who came over from Arizona in a July 31 trade, will start Game 3 after going 18-5 with a 2.93 ERA in 33 starts between the D-backs and Astros. In 10 starts with Houston, he was 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA. In his career, he’s 3-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 11 career postseason starts between the Brewers, Dodgers and D-backs.
Hinch said Greinke threw a four-inning bullpen session on Wednesday because he will have a long layoff between appearances, with his last start coming on Sept. 25 when he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Mariners. Verlander and Cole will each have an extra day of rest between their final start of the regular season and first of the postseason.
Rookie Jose Urquidy or veteran Wade Miley will start a Game 4, if necessary.
“We haven’t set our roster yet, nor do we really need to worry about a Game 4,” Hinch said.
Correa set to play
After putting Carlos Correa through workouts this week at Minute Maid, Hinch said his shortstop was ready to go for Game 1 of the ALDS. Correa missed the final six games of the regular season with tightness in his back, the same ailment that put him on the injured list for a month late in the season.
Hinch said Correa has been active this week after doing some rehab on Monday, adding some baseball activity on Tuesday and hitting, throwing and fielding ground balls on Wednesday. He also stood in against reliever Will Harris during live batting practice.
“He looks great and is moving around in normal fashion, and I expect him to play on Friday,” Hinch said.
Correa was on the injured list from Aug. 20-Sept. 17 because of a stiff back and missed 50 games from May 27-July 21 after he broke a rib while getting a massage at his home. Correa, 25, slashed .279/.358/.568 with 21 home runs and 59 RBIs in 75 regular-season games.
Odds and ends
Hinch said pitchers Framber Valdez, Cionel Perez, Cy Sneed and Joe Biagini were sent home following the regular season. Biagini will remain on a throwing program in case he’s needed later in the postseason, but Valdez, Perez and Sneed will start their offseason programs.