ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 20: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros reacts against the Texas Rangers during the sixth inning in Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Globe Life Field on October 20, 2023 in Arlington, Texas.
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Justin Verlander Receives Disappointing Injury Update

Last month, Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander disclosed some shoulder discomfort that caused him to pause his throwing progression prior to opening day.

While it wasn't clear back then whether this setback would force Verlander to miss any regular season action, the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer provided an update on Tuesday that confirmed the fears of Astros fans. 

According to an X post from Astros beat reporter Brian McTaggart, "Justin Verlander will be on the IL to begin the season, manager Joe Espada said. Verlander hasn't had any setbacks, but he needs more time in his build up.

"'He's doing well, but we're running out of days and won't be able to build him up to start the regular season,' he said."

McTaggart's update on Verlander offers us a lot to unpack.

While it's never a good sign that a pitcher is missing time early in the season due to a lingering arm injury, the fact that Verlander hasn't experienced any more setbacks over the last month bodes well for him returning sooner rather than later. 

They're going to be cautious as possible with Verlander — who missed the first month of last season due to an injury — because the Astros are all but guaranteed to contend for the World Series once again this year and are more worried about Verlander being healthy in October as opposed to April. 

Perhaps we should have seen the writing on the wall all along. Anytime a pitcher — or any other professional athlete — goes public about an injury they're dealing with, a stint on the IL usually follows soon after. 

We do know that Verlander threw a 60-pitch bullpen session over the weekend, albeit at a noticeably low intensity. That indicates that the three-time Cy Young Award winner — who went 13-8 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.13 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) and 144 strikeouts in 162 1/3 innings this past season — will likely be missing weeks rather than months. 

Hopefully, Verlander addressing this shoulder injury and not complaining about it too much will keep the "diva" accusations he has faced over the past year at bay as the Astros' opening day — on March 28 against the Yankees — approaches. 

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