Here is a look at the pitching matchups as the Astros and Rays kick off their series Friday.
GAME 1: Justin Verlander vs. Tyler Glasnow
To know: Justin Verlander might win the Cy Young and has more playoff experience than every pitcher on the Rays combined. Glasnow missed four months in the middle of the season and hasn't been stretched out in a regular game since May. He throws 99 and the Rays will likely use a billion pitchers out of the bullpen, but this is a clear disadvantage with Tampa Bay using their #2 pitcher, who isn't stretched out against possibly the best pitcher in the league.
GAME 2: Gerrit Cole vs. Blake Snell
To know: Same thing here. 2018 Cy Young Winner Blake Snell is a really, really good lefty pitcher, but he's been out for much of the season and hasn't been stretched out since July 21. In fact, Snell didn't even pitch into the 8th inning this whole season in 23 starts. Gerrit Cole – stop me if you're heard this – might be the best pitcher in the league. Cole might win the Cy Young and is coming off a season where he set the MLB record for K/9 by a starting pitcher. All that being said, Blake Snell is a talent and winning the 2018 Cy Young wasn't a Fluke.
GAME 3: Zack Greinke vs. Charlie Morton
To know: Ah, the old friend Charlie Morton. Morton came up huge for the Astros in 2017 helping Houston win the World Series and now comes back on the other side. Morton has had a terrific season for Tampa Bay, pitching to a 3.05 ERA and 240 strikeouts. He faces Zack Greinke, Houston's big July trade acquisition. Greinke has a ton of playoff experience, starting 11 games for three different teams with varying results. His last postseason, with Arizona, didn't go as well for Greinke, but he was terrific with the Dodgers. Tampa Bay's best chance for a win comes in game 3, at home, with the team's top pitcher going against the Astros #3.