Justin Verlander Shut Down by Astros After Injury Diagnosed as Mild Lat Strain

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2020

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander throws to the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning of a spring training baseball game, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Houston Astros star pitcher Justin Verlander has been shut down after suffering what general manager James Click called a "mild lat strain," according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle

After he was shut down, Verlander told reporters it "would probably take a miracle" to be ready by Opening Day, which is March 26 at home against the Los Angeles Angels.

The pitcher was removed from Sunday's start after triceps soreness in his right arm, per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.

The right-hander was scheduled to pitch four innings against the New York Mets but only lasted two.

The 37-year-old continues to be one of baseball's best starting pitchers. The eight-time All-Star, two-time American League Cy Young Award winner and 2011 AL MVP continued his string of excellence in 2019, finishing 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA and career bests in WHIP (0.80) and strikeouts (300) in 223 innings. 

It was Verlander's second career season with 20 wins, his fourth season with a sub-3.00 ERA, his third season with a sub-1.00 WHIP and his ninth season with at least 200 strikeouts. 

Though his durability even into the latter part of his career has been impressive, the future Hall of Famer will have question marks heading into the 2020 season.

Verlander is irreplaceable for Houston, which lost Gerrit Cole in free agency during the offseason and is looking to return to the postseason amid the fallout from their cheating scandal. Houston's rotation options include Austin Pruitt, Josh James and Framber Valdez, but a sidelined Verlander is a major blow for the Astros.