Justin Verlander’s rebirth with the Houston Astros has been put on hold.
The reigning American League Cy Young winner and a future Hall of Famer, Verlander has been shut down with a forearm injury. Initial reports out of Houston said Verlander, 37, would miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury.
Regardless of the injury, and regardless if Verlander returns to the mound this season, don’t call the situation ‘karmic payback’ for the Houston Astros‘ cheating scandal.
Justin Verlander will miss a good amount of time
Initially, the Houston Chronicle reported Justin Verlander — the Astros’ unquestioned ace after Gerrit Cole’s departure for New York — would miss the rest of the 2020 season with an elbow injury.
Astros manager Dusty Baker threw cold water on that news. Baker told reporters after a 7-6 loss to the Mariners that Verlander instead has a forearm strain.
Baker added Verlander will be shut down for a couple of weeks. Given the late-July timing of Verlander’s injury, it is not unrealistic he does not return until September.
Verlander struck out seven and allowed two runs in Houston’s opening day victory against Seattle. He did not show any signs of injury on the mound, nor did he discuss one with reporters.
Justin Verlander’s injury is a huge blow to Houston
The Houston Astros, like every other team, are in the midst of a 60-game season. That means the Astros, who have won the AL West Division in each of the last three years, have even less of a room for slumps and errors.
Justin Verlander’s injury is neither, but it is a devastating blow to the reigning AL champions. Verlander has been one of baseball’s best pitchers since he joined the Astros in September 2017.
Veteran Zack Greinke, himself an All-Star and former Cy Young winner, is still around and will need to fill in admirably. Beyond Greinke, the Astros also have Lance McCullers Jr. and other younger pitchers.
None, save Greinke if he gets hot, will provide the impact Verlander has the last two-plus seasons.
If the injury is far more severe than Dusty Baker had reporters believe, the Astros may not be without Verlander until sometime next season. That is especially true if Verlander needed an elective surgery but had to postpone it amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Verlander addressed his injury in a tweet.
“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.”
Verlander is a free agent after the 2021 season. He turns 38 on February 20.
Verlander’s injury isn’t ‘karma’ for the Astros’ cheating scandal
The Houston Astros took over the pre-pandemic sports world not for Justin Verlander’s pitching or Jose Altuve’s hitting,
A sign-stealing scandal involving video cameras, trash cans, and a tainted World Series title rocked the world. Houston fired manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for the scandal.
When reports first broke of Verlander’s injury, social media flooded with jokes about it being “karma” for the Astros’ cheating scandal.
That’s not the right word, though. If anything, it’s ironic given his injury — even if it only costs him a month — hurts the Astros more than any punishment they could have received from commissioner Rob Manfred.
Legal and union issues prevented Manfred for suspending any player involved in the cheating scandal. He opted not to remove the Astros’ 2017 World Series title.
The Astros got off scot-free in that department. But an injury to arguably the best pitcher in baseball, one that could keep him out the rest of this season and possibly linger into 2021, is a deadlier punishment than Manfred could have dreamed of.