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McHugh, Miley to start Games 3, 4 vs. Rays 

@brianmctaggart
March 22, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Astros have set their starting pitching rotation for the first series of the regular season against the Rays, with manager AJ Hinch announcing Friday that right-hander Collin McHugh would start the third game of the season March 30 against the Rays at Tropicana Field,

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Astros have set their starting pitching rotation for the first series of the regular season against the Rays, with manager AJ Hinch announcing Friday that right-hander Collin McHugh would start the third game of the season March 30 against the Rays at Tropicana Field, and newcomer Wade Miley would start the March 31 series finale.

Hinch had already announced Justin Verlander would take the ball on Opening Day on Thursday, with Gerrit Cole working the second game of the season March 29. Verlander will face lefty Blake Snell in a battle of the top two finishers in last year’s American League Cy Young Award race on Opening Day, followed by Cole vs. former Astros starter Charlie Morton on March 29, McHugh vs. right-hander Tyler Glasnow on March 30 and Miley vs. a Rays opener on March 31.

McHugh is returning to the rotation after posting a 1.99 ERA in 58 relief appearances last year.

“He needs to be a starter and get back to how he was for us in ’15 and ’16 when he was in our rotation,” Hinch said. “He’s very reliable. He’s a guy that can get a lot of different styles of hitters, he can pitch to a game plan. I think his slider he learned last season in the bullpen will help him in the rotation this year. He brings stability and comfort in that he’s a really good pitcher that can move the ball around and use the game plan to his advantage.”

The Astros have yet to announce a fifth starter, but both candidates for that spot were scheduled to pitch Friday’s game against the Mets. Brad Peacock started the game and was set to be followed by lefty Framber Valdez. Hinch has said Peacock is the front-runner for that spot.

Verlander will make his 11th career Opening Day start, tying him with Felix Hernandez, Fergie Jenkins, Dennis Martinez and CC Sabathia for the 10th-most opener starts in history.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.