Series Preview: The defending champs!

After earning a split with the Angels, the Jays will head to Houston to finish off their West Coast road trip. The Astros are, uhhhhh, really good, so this might be a grind. But hey, this team swept the Nationals so you never know!

Monday at 8:10 ET

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Justin Verlander found the fountain of youth after he was acquired by the Astros like two seconds before the final trade deadline last year. Verlander was key in helping the Astros to their first-ever World Series and he’s followed it up with a Cy Young calibre season in 2018. Verlander owns an obscene 1.60 ERA through 16 starts. He’s holding opponents to 5.2 hits per nine and he’s striking out 10.9 guys per nine. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start once this season. J.A. Happ will start for the Blue Jays in the series opener. Happ nearly tossed a complete game last week against the Braves but got pulled after allowing a couple baserunners to reach in the ninth.

Tuesday at 8:10 ET

Speaking of figuring it out in Houston… Charlie Morton! What the fuck? Morton looked like a rotting husk when he pitched with the Phillies in 2016. He signed a deal with Houston last year and was shockingly good. He also played a huge role for the Astros in the World Series, allowing just two runs over 10 1/3 innings. This year, Morton has a 2.74 ERA and is striking out 11.1 batters per nine. What?!! Seriously! Ryan Borucki will make his first big league start in opposition to Morton on Tuesday. Borucki has been excellent as of late for the Buffalo Bisons and, at this stage, is likely auditioning for a spot in Toronto’s rotation next season. Chuck him in the deep end!

Wednesday at 2:10 ET

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The series finale will go down between Dallas Keuchel and Marco Estrada. While Charlie Morton (!??!) has emerged as an ace-quality pitcher for the Astros, Keuchel, the former Cy Young winner, hasn’t been himself this year. He owns a 3.90 ERA, which isn’t bad by any stretch, but he’s had some pretty rough periods this season that led some to speculate if he was tipping pitches. That said, Keuchel has posted back-to-back scoreless outings, so maybe he’s got himself figured out. Estrada has also been excellent as of late. His last four outings have all been quality starts as he’s allowed just five earned runs over his last 25 2/3 innings. A big start against a team like Houston would go a long way in boosting his trade value.