Three up, three down: Justin Verlander and Bryce Harper speak, NL West sinks

Three up, three down: Justin Verlander and Bryce Harper speak, NL West sinks

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Real quality starts: After Justin Verlander shut out the Angels on Wednesday, he confessed to some hesitation about his trade to the Houston Astros last year, not because the Astros were a bad team, but because he feared a data-driven approach in which they limited the workloads of their pitchers. Five innings is good, and facing a hitter the third time is bad? Not in Houston, not this year. In the Astros' first 45 games, their starters completed seven innings 22 times, six innings 35 times. Verlander (1.05), Gerrit Cole (1.75) and Charlie Morton ranked 1-2-3 in the American League earned-run average ERA race. Verlander was proud of his pitch count: 118. "I wasn't a throwback when I first started," he said. "As the game changes, I'm more of a throwback."

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