Justin Verlander was tough to beat long before he was traded to the Houston Astros toward the end of last season, but he has been a different pitcher against the Los Angeles Angels since changing uniforms.
Verlander is scheduled to start the second game of the three-game series against the Angels on Saturday afternoon.
Los Angeles (49-49) is already off to a bad start against the Houston pitching staff and will try to avoid falling below.500 for the first time since the Angels were 0-1.
Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel no-hit the Angels for 6 2/3 innings in the series opener on Friday night before a line drive by Justin Upton went off the glove of shortstop Marwin Gonzalez for their first hit. Keuchel was done after allowing one run and two hits in eight innings of the 3-1 win, keeping the Astros (65-35) five games in front of the Seattle Mariners for first place in the American League West.
"We hit four or five balls on the nose and nothing to show for it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters afterward.
Verlander, 35, will make his fifth start against the Angels since the Detroit Tigers traded him to Houston at the end of August. He's 4-0 in the previous four starts, allowing two earned runs and 11 hits in 31 innings. Angels first baseman Albert Pujols accounted for one of those runs with a solo home run.
Verlander (9-5, 2.29) entered the weekend fifth in the majors in ERA, but winless since June 14.
In his last start, he faced the Tigers for the first time since the trade and gave up four home runs and a season-high six runs in the 6-3 loss.
"I'm not going to let this leave a bitter taste in my mouth," Verlander told MLB.com after the loss, which dropped him to 0-3 in his past five starts. "You look at the big picture. Not the result I wanted today, but I'm healthy and feel good and the stuff is there. The first half was about as good as I could have drawn it up."
Though his recent numbers against the Angels have been extraordinary, Verlander's career marks against Los Angeles aren't nearly as impressive.
He's 10-8 with a 3.12 ERA in 21 starts against the Angels. Two of his past four starts against the Angels have come on their home field, but even with those sharp outings, Verlander is 4-5 overall at Angel Stadium with a 4.46 ERA. In his most recent start against Los Angeles, he threw a five-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory on May 16 at Angel Stadium.
Angels right-hander Nick Tropeano is scheduled to come off the disabled list and make his first start since June 10 for the Angels. He was sidelined with right shoulder inflammation for the second time this season.
Tropeano (3-4, 4.83) made his second rehab start on Saturday for Class A Inland Empire and allowed three runs (two earned) and seven hits in four innings.
Tropeano has made three starts in his career against Houston and is 0-1 with a 4.39 ERA.
He was matched up against Verlander on April 25 in Houston and allowed four runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings, taking the loss in the 5-2 defeat.