Justin Verlander threw only three innings and 60 pitches before leaving today’s start against the Orioles due to right calf discomfort. It was Verlander’s shortest outing and lowest pitch count of the season.
More will be known about the right-hander’s condition after the game, and presumably after the Astros medical staff runs a battery of tests on Verlander’s calf. At least for now, the team’s description of the injury as just “discomfort” is a good sign, as there was no immediately apparent strain.
The Astros have off-days on both Monday and Thursday this week, so unless Verlander’s issue turns out be very minor, Houston can skip his next turn in the rotation without any larger reshuffling within the pitching staff. Of course, the Astros have arguably the sport’s best and deepest pitching staff, so if Verlander had to visit the injured list, Cristian Javier could step right back into starting duty after his recent move to the bullpen. While a short-term fill-in situation is no problem, naturally losing Verlander for any significant length of time would be a severe blow to the Astros and their chances of a return trip to the World Series.
After Tommy John surgery forced Verlander to miss virtually all of the 2020 and 2021 seasons, he has returned at age-39 to post one of the very best seasons of his already legendary career. Verlander entered today’s action with a MLB-leading 1.87 ERA over 149 innings, showing no ill effects from his two-year layoff and looking like a favorite to capture the AL Cy Young Award (which would be the third CYA of Verlander’s career).