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Preview, #150: 9/16 @ Astros

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Two men with Cy Youngs on their mantelpieces go head to head in the series finale.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Colorado Rockies Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

DIAMONDBACKS ASTROS
Jon Jay - RF George Springer - CF
A.J. Pollock - CF Jose Altuve - 2B
David Peralta - LF Alex Bregman - 3B
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Yuli Gurriel - 1B
Eduardo Escobar - 3B Tyler White - DH
Daniel Descalso - DH Carlos Correa - SS
Ketel Marte - 2B Josh Reddick - RF
Nick Ahmed - SS Martin Maldonado - C
Jeff Mathis - C Tony Kemp - LF
Zack Greinke - O Justin Verlander - P

Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander have been two of the best pitchers in baseball over the last decade-plus. Since Verlander won Rookie of the Year in 2006, they rank third and first respectively for bWAR by pitchers. Greinke is at 56.6 bWAR and Verlander at 62.7, separated by Clayton Kershaw (who started two years later, but has notched 62.4 bWAR so far). Verlander is the only pitcher with more than two hundred wins over that time (203); Greinke isn’t far behind, with the fourth-highest total on 173 (C.C. Sabathia and Jon Lester both have 175). Verlander also leads the strikeout list since 2006, with his 2,667 a full 241 ahead of the next-placed pitcher, Max Scherzer.

You could argue Zack has been the better pitcher overall, with a better ERA+ (131 vs. 126): his ERA and FIP are also both about a quarter-run lower than Justin. Verlander’s edge in WAR is mostly due to his workload. He has thrown over four hundred more innings than Greinke, basically two additional seasons. This is partly due to having spent his whole career in the AL, where pitchers go deeper, but Greinke also lost a big chunk of 2006-07, through injury and also working out of the Royals bullpen. Yes, in 2007, Zack made 38 relief appearances for Kansas City, something he hasn’t done since. Since 2008, their bWARs are almost identical: Verlander is at 54.5, Greinke at 54.3.

This season, you’d be hard pushed to see much air between them either. Here are their two stat lines:
Greinke: 30 GS, 14-9, 188.0 IP, 161 H, 68 R, 65 ER, 27 HR, 37 BB, 185 SO, 3.11 ERA
Verlander: 31 GS, 15-9, 195.0 IP, 149 H, 62 R, 59 ER, 27 HR, 35 BB, 258 SO, 2.72 ERA
Justin has a clear edge in strikeouts, and a better ERA, but the two pitchers, both born in 1983, each have bWAR for the year that starts with a four. It’s should be an excellent pitching match-up, between two men who may both end up in the Hall of Fame at the end of their careers. Though what hats they might be wearing for their induction into Cooperstown is anyone’s guess!