HOUSTON -- Veteran right-hander Justin Verlander, acquired by the Astros from the Tigers late Thursday night in exchange for three top prospects, will make his first start for his new team Tuesday against the Mariners in Seattle, manager A.J. Hinch announced Friday.
Verlander, who made his final start for the Tigers on Wednesday, waived his no-trade clause to join the Astros, who enter September with an 11 1/2-game lead in the American League West and a 3 1/2-game lead over the Indians for the best record in the AL. The 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner and AL Most Valuable Player Award winner is 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA in 28 starts this year, including 5-3 with a 2.31 ERA in his past 11 starts.
"Our team is going to show up that morning expecting to win, and I don't know if you can give much more respect to a pitcher that every time the guy pitches, you expect to win," Hinch said.
With Verlander coming aboard and Lance McCullers coming off the disabled list in the next few days, Hinch said some decisions will have to be made concerning the rotation. But with doubleheaders scheduled on each of the next two Saturdays -- including this Saturday at Minute Maid Park against the Mets -- the Astros will need more than five starters for the time being.
"Over the next 10 days, we're going to need to decide the five guys that we're going to move forward with," Hinch said.
Verlander will join 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, along with McCullers and Charlie Morton, as rotation locks. Collin McHugh has pitched well since coming off the disabled list, so Mike Fiers and Brad Peacock are mostly likely to be impacted by Verlander and McCullers.
Peacock excelled in the bullpen early in the season before injuries forced him into the rotation, and Fiers hasn't pitched as well lately (1-4, 7.44 ERA in his past six starts) as he did in the middle of the summer. Regardless of how it shakes out at the bottom of the rotation, the Astros' 1-2-3 punch of Verlander, Keuchel and McCullers sets up Houston as a playoff force.
"From the clubhouse, I think it's really hard to overstate the kind of energy that a move likes this puts into the group," Hinch said. "From the text messages to the calls to the overall excitement of our club, these additions are a huge boost on the energy and makeup component, but more importantly from the baseball component.
"Justin Verlander is hands down the best possible outcome we could have had last night going into September. By the responses from our team, we couldn't be more excited to get him here and get him into our culture and see where he can help take us."