Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Justin Verlander injury update: Astros ace tentatively set to make return from calf issue on Friday

Astros ace Justin Verlander departed his start on Aug. 29 due to a calf injury and he’s been on the shelf since. Given his age, the fact that he was coming off Tommy John surgery entering this season and where the Astros sit in the standings, it wouldn’t have been all too surprising to see him miss most of the remaining regular season schedule. 

Instead, the Astros might be getting him back rather quickly. 

Wednesday, manager Dusty Baker told reporters (Chandler Rome) that the tentative plan was for Verlander to return on Friday at home against the A’s. To reiterate, the plan is tentative, so if the schedule changes it isn’t necessarily worrisome news. More than anything, it seems like things are progressing toward a return within the next few days and that’s great news for Houston.

Even if Verlander only goes a few innings in his return, that’s perfectly acceptable. They have a 12 1/2-game lead in the AL West and are six games better than the Yankees for the best record in the AL. There really isn’t too much to play for the rest of the regular season for the Astros, other than getting ready for another deep playoff run.

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On that front, getting a full-go Verlander for October is toward the top of the list of priorities for the organization. 

The 39-year-old right-hander is 16-3 with a 1.84 ERA (208 ERA+), 0.86 WHIP and 154 strikeouts against 26 walks in 152 innings this season. The two-time Cy Young winner was a frontrunner to win his third before going down with injury. Perhaps this return will help put him back in pole position for the hardware. 

If the Astros are at full strength come playoff time, it’ll be interesting to see what they do with their pitching staff. They are currently running a six-man rotation with Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers, Cristian Javier, José Urquidy, Luis Garcia and rookie sensation Hunter Brown. Looping in Verlander and that’s seven starters when they only need a maximum of four for the playoffs. They’ll be able to pick one from the rest of the group to join Verlander, McCullers and Valdez while moving the rest to what will be a deep bullpen. 

For now, the most important thing is building Verlander back up to full strength. They are hoping that starts on Friday. 

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