The Astros should have their ace, Justin Verlander, at 100 percent when spring training resumes. The club expects Verlander, who underwent groin surgery in March, to be a full participant in camp, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports.
Along with the groin issue, Verlander also dealt with a lat strain in March. It’s, of course, unusual for physical problems to weigh down the 37-year-old Verlander, a longtime workhorse who turned in a whopping 12th 200-inning season in 2019 en route to his second American League Cy Young Award and eighth All-Star nod. In all, he fired 223 frames of 2.58 ERA ball with 12.11 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 to help the Astros to another AL West title and league pennant.
Verlander formed a near-untouchable trio with righty Gerrit Cole and trade deadline acquisition Zack Greinke last season, but Cole left to join the rival Yankees in free agency on a record-setting contract worth $324MM over nine seasons. Verlander and Greinke are all the more important to the Astros with Cole out of the picture, and the team’s rotation also lost another veteran in lefty Wade Miley over the winter. But the Astros will at least get Lance McCullers Jr. back from Tommy John surgery this year. He’ll help Verlander and Greinke lead a staff that’s otherwise low on proven major league options.