Astros ace Justin Verlander leaves spring training start due to triceps soreness

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander exited his Sunday start earlier than expected due to triceps soreness, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Verlander then left the ballpark to get additional testing done. Verlander had been slated to throw four innings on Sunday. Instead, he was limited to two frames. 

His fastball sat between 91 to 93 mph on the stadium radar gun, a range well below his norm, as he averaged 94.6 mph with his fastball last season. It’s possible the stadium’s gun runs cold, or that Verlander was throwing at less than max effort given it’s early March.

Verlander, 37, has long been the model of durability. He’s thrown at least 200 innings in 12 of the last 13 seasons, including each of the last four. Additionally, he’s made 30 or more starts in 13 of his 14 full big-league seasons, dating back to the 2006 campaign.

Obviously it’s too soon to know if Verlander will miss any time, or if he’ll be limited heading into the regular season. Astros manager Dusty Baker called the move to yank Verlander “precautionary” after Houston’s game versus the New York Mets.

The Astros are not well positioned to deal with significant injuries to Verlander or Zack Greinke. The rest of their rotation — Lance McCullers Jr., Josh James, and Jose Urquidy — have never profiled as workhorse types. 

Of course, replacing Verlander would be a challenge for any team. Since joining the Astros via a late-season trade in 2017, he’s posted a 2.45 ERA and a 7.54 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 73 starts. He won the AL Cy Young Award last season and finished second in the voting in 2018. Pitchers capable of that kind of sustained production don’t grow on trees.

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