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Cole ready to begin new quest with Astros

Houston's offseason prize starts series finale in Arlington
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

ARLINGTON -- By starting the fourth and final game of the Astros' Opening Series against the Rangers at Globe Life Park, Gerrit Cole has had two chances to watch fellow right-handers Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. attack the Texas lineup.

Cole, acquired from the Pirates in a Jan. 13 trade, will make his Astros debut when Houston faces the Rangers at 2:05 p.m. CT Sunday, squaring off against lefty Mike Minor. Cole's only previous start against the Rangers came during his rookie season in 2013, when he fired seven scoreless innings.

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ARLINGTON -- By starting the fourth and final game of the Astros' Opening Series against the Rangers at Globe Life Park, Gerrit Cole has had two chances to watch fellow right-handers Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. attack the Texas lineup.

Cole, acquired from the Pirates in a Jan. 13 trade, will make his Astros debut when Houston faces the Rangers at 2:05 p.m. CT Sunday, squaring off against lefty Mike Minor. Cole's only previous start against the Rangers came during his rookie season in 2013, when he fired seven scoreless innings.

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Verlander threw six scoreless innings on Opening Day on Thursday, and McCullers racked up 10 strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings in a 9-3 win Saturday.

"Early in the season, everybody is more focused on themselves, but for sure, having Justin and Lance going, two right-handers, before myself is going to beneficial," Cole said. "They've just been so gracious, and being able to share information and try to get me acclimated has been an advantage as well."

Cole, who started on Opening Day for Pittsburgh last year, has a 19-22 record and 4.12 ERA over 54 starts the past two seasons after winning 19 games in '15. He went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA in 33 starts last year, allowing 55 walks and 31 homers while striking out 196 in 203 innings.

He pitched the first five seasons of his big league career in the National League, so 2018 means he'll have to adjust to ballparks and hitters he hasn't seen much.

"It's a new atmosphere, a lot to learn with new ballparks and trying to take in the sights and sounds and just fit in," he said.

Cole has faced only two current Rangers position players: Adrian Beltre (0-for-3) and Elvis Andrus (0-for-2). It will be Cole's first look at Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Shin-Soo Choo and Rougned Odor, among others.

"There's a lot of great hitters in this division, a lot of great teams," Cole said. "I've got to do my homework and try to get familiar with them as quickly as I can, and hopefully that leads to some success."

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

Houston Astros, Gerrit Cole