Justin Verlander, the Houston Astros ace and future Hall of Famer, will be out at least a “couple of weeks” with a forearm injury, manager Dusty Baker announced Sunday, and Verlander could be out even longer.
The team confirmed Verlander’s injury after Sunday’s 7-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners, but didn’t make it sound as grave as the original report by Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle that said Verlander was out for the season.
Verlander, 37 and the reigning AL Cy Young winner, had an MRI on Saturday confirming the injury.
Dusty Baker on Verlander injury: “It’s a forearm strain. He’s shut down for a couple of weeks and we’ll reevaluate at that time. That’s all I can tell you.”
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) July 26, 2020
Verlander himself went on Twitter and said he’s not out for the season and hopes to return:
The report that I’m currently missing the rest of the season is not accurate. There is a forearm strain... I’m hopeful that with some rest it will heal and I’ll be able to return soon. Thank you for all the well wishes. 🙏🏻
— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) July 26, 2020
Verlander started on opening day for the Astros and pitched six innings, allowing two runs and three hits and striking out seven. With Gerrit Cole going to the Yankees in free agency, the Astros needed Verlander more than ever if they hoped to go on another World Series run. In the shortened 60-game season, even a few weeks could potentially turn into half the season rather quickly.
Without him, they’ll need even more out of Lance McCullers Jr., who is coming off Tommy John surgery and Josh James, who went to the rotation this year from the bullpen and was picked by many as a breakout player. Zack Greinke, who started Sunday and allowed three runs in 3.1 innings, is Houston’s other veteran pitcher.
Verlander, meanwhile, is experiencing something new. He’s been incredibly durable throughout his career. In his 16-year MLB career, he’s fell short of 30 starts once — in 2015. Besides his rookie season, that’s also the only season Verlander didn’t reach the 200-inning threshold.
Forearm problems are often an indication of elbow issues, which lead to the obvious question: Does he need Tommy John surgery? Verlander is perhaps MLB’s biggest star arm who hasn’t needed Tommy John. If he were to need it, the shortened 2020 season and the 12-to-18-month recovery time could mean Verlander doesn’t pitch again until 2022, when he’ll be 39.
He’s signed through 2021 with the Astros, making $33 million this season and next.
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