The news of Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander’s surgery comes at a convenient time.
Under normal circumstances, the news of Justin Verlander having surgery in the middle of March would send Houston fans into a panic. The Astros can ill afford to be without their ace for any length of time. But these are not normal circumstances.
The club announced on Tuesday that Verlander underwent surgery on his troublesome right groin, which had bothered him early in Spring Training. It was believed that he’d moved past it, as it was a lat strain that knocked him out of action in his final spring start on March 9.
But evidently the issue wasn’t behind him, as Astros GM James Click noted that Verlander suffered a setback in his rehab that prompted the training staff to recommend surgery. He is expected to be sidelined for about six weeks, which would have him ready to resume baseball activities around the end of April.
That doesn’t mean he’ll be ready to take the mound at that point, as he’ll still need to prepare himself physically as one would in Spring Training. A best case scenario could possibly have him ready to go in mid-May, which would have him miss a significant chunk of a normal season. But again, this isn’t a normal season.
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There’s still no definitive date set for when the regular season will begin thanks to the Coronavirus outbreak. At this point, it’s highly unlikely that will happen before May, with the possibility that the delay extends into June. It all depends on how this outbreak progresses and how quickly it blows over, which is anyone’s guess right now.
But the Astros probably don’t mind the delay as much, considering their already-thin rotation would be without its ace if the season were starting on time. The team will rely heavily on Verlander and Zack Greinke this season after losing Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley and only bringing in Austin Pruitt to compete for a rotation spot.
It’s also fortuitous for Verlander, who’s been one of the most durable pitchers of this era. He’s made at least 30 starts in 13 of the past 14 seasons, and while that streak could take a hit if the league is forced to play an abbreviated schedule, he certainly doesn’t want to miss any time.
So while no one wants this outbreak or this temporary halt to the sports world, there is a silver lining in that it gives Verlander time to mend in hopes that he’s ready to go whenever baseball returns.