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Astros’ Justin Verlander Will Not Pitch in Remaining Spring Games

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will not pitch in any of the Astros remaining games this spring. Manager Joe Espada said Thursday that Verlander will not pitch in the Astros’ four remaining Grapefruit League games. That also includes their two exhibition games ahead of Opening Day.

Verlander, 41, will start the season on the injured list after delays with shoulder soreness. Espada said Verlander is “doing really well” in his progression, but Houston wants to be “smart” and not rush him back for Opening Day. The three-time Cy Young winner has thrown multiple bullpen sessions and faced live hitters for the first time on Wednesday. Espada said Verlander responded well after throwing 20 pitches in live batting practice on Wednesday.

Justin Verlander Won’t Pitch in Spring Games

The Astros’ ace will likely throw another live batting practice or two before the spring ends. Verlander is then expected to head out on a minor league rehab assignment to build up his innings. He will open the season on the 15-day injured list, but assuming he experiences no setbacks in his rehab assignment, Verlander could rejoin Houston’s rotation by the end of April.

Verlander began the 2023 season with the Mets before being traded back to the Astros at the deadline. He made 27 starts between the two teams, pitching to a 3.22 ERA and a 3.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Verlander’s first start of 2023 was delayed by over a month because of a muscle strain in his upper back/shoulder.

No Concerns About Verlander

According to Verlander, the “hiccup” that set him back a few weeks ago has resolved. He is now taking the time to build himself back up. This was echoed by Astros general manager Dana Brown, who told that he had “no concerns about Verlander.” Brown confirmed the future Hall of Famer “never stopped throwing” and is being cautious as he builds back up.

Framber Valdez will start his third Opening Day for the Astros as they open the season against the New York Yankees. Verlander and Valdez will front a Houston rotation that will be without starters José Urquidy, Luis García, and Lance McCullers Jr. until later in the season.

Houston is looking to return to the World Series after falling to rival Texas Rangers in last year’s American League Championship Series. Having Verlander fully healthy going into the postseason should be a top priority for the Astros.

Main Photo: © Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports


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