With nine losses in their past 11 games, the reigning American League champion Astros have fallen under .500 (23-24) and find themselves fighting for their playoff lives. The Astros have gone almost the whole year without 2019 AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, which certainly hasn’t helped matters, but they’re hoping to get him back for a start in the final week of the regular season, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com relays.
Verlander, who’s recovering from a forearm strain, threw 55-60 pitches Saturday and will soon face live hitters, which is a “very, very positive sign,” according to manager Dusty Baker.
In Baker’s estimation, no matter how late in the campaign, a Verlander return would be like a major late-season acquisition. Baker’s not wrong in that regard, as Verlander has long been an elite starter and could help decide whether the Astros make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season or sit home in the fall.
Without Verlander, who has only taken the mound once (on July 24), the Astros’ formerly elite rotation has been a middle-of-the-pack unit. Zack Greinke and Framber Valdez have posted far better field-independent pitching numbers than ERAs; on the other hand, the opposite has been true for Cristian Javier; Jose Urquidy has only made two starts; and Lance McCullers Jr. logged a 5.79 ERA before going on the injured list Sept. 6 with neck problems. Like Verlander, though, McCullers is on his way back, per McTaggart, who writes that he’ll return to the team’s rotation Wednesday.
Maybe Verlander will come back with a bang
no it’s two bangs for a curve
And 3 bangs for a slider!
Imagine being a high seed only to draw Verlander/Greinke to start a best of 3.
The pandemic playoffs are going to be silly with upsets.
Eh, Verlander won’t really be stretched out enough. And who knows what he’ll have if he does even come back. Forearm strains usually result in TJS. This seems like another Chris Sale situation.
The Astros are currently ranked ahead of teams with better records and are the only team in the AL with a losing record in the top 8. This cheating organization will be gifted a playoff spot because they’re in the worst division in the game.
Could argue they only have a losing record because Verlander, Urquidy, McCullers, Peacock, Devinski, Pruitt, Pressly, Osuna, Altuve, Bregman, Springer, Brantley, Alvarez, Diaz, etc have all missed at least 10 games each.
The Astros literally have not played a single game with all of those guys. In a 60 game season, missing 10+ games is huge.
Hopefully the best postseason pitcher of our era will be back for the postseason once again!