March 9: Verlander underwent an MRI to evaluate the issue, tweets Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, but the Astros have yet to receive the results.
March 8, 2:50pm: Dusty Baker shed some light on Verlander’s exit, saying he experienced right triceps soreness, per McTaggart. His removal was precautionary.
It’s unclear at this time what particular issue Verlander is dealing with, though he’s been plagued with a strained right groin throughout spring training. Neither Verlander nor the Astros gave any indication as to the severity of Verlander’s discomfort. Presumably, an update will be provided shortly.
Among the many issues that could derail the Astros 2020 season, any hiccups at the top of the rotation might be the most worrying. With a host of less-established candidates filling the void at the back end of the rotation, Verlander and co-ace Zack Greinke are the only guaranteed quality starters currently employed in Houston. Lance McCullers Jr. slots in as the number three, but the native Floridian is coming off a lost 2019, and he’s never made more than 22 starts in a season.
Verlander’s injury may turn out to be nothing, but this is the risk in pinning rotation stability on a 37-year-old Verlander and 36-year-old Greinke. Granted, Verlander and Greinke show no signs of slowing down after combining for 13.3 pitching bWAR in 2019, and given the amount of adversity sure to confront the 2020 Astros, a healthy Verlander and Greinke still provide the surest chance to rise above.