Justin Verlander will make less than 25 starts in 2024
For the last few years, betting against Justin Verlander in his fight against Father Time has been a fool's errand. While he did miss the 2021 season after having Tommy John surgery, Verlander has made a habit of defying the odds and remaining one of the best pitchers in baseball well into his late 30's.
Clearly the Astros still believe that Verlander has more left in the tank as they sent a sizable prospect package to the Mets to bring him back to Houston at the trade deadline last season. Verlander rewarded the Astros' faith in him with a 3.31 ERA in 11 starts after the trade. Not exactly the otherworldly numbers he posted in recent years, but certainly good enough.
The problem here is that Verlander has shown signs of falling off in recent years. His strikeout rate took a massive hit after his elbow surgery, his walk rate jumped last season, and he is getting hit much harder as he has struggled to miss bats and his fastball velocity has trended downward. Verlander made it work last year because he knows how to pitch out of trouble, but all of these are troubling trends.
At 40 years old, the end is near for Verlander's Hall of Fame career. He is too good to expect him to completely fall off a cliff, but the Astros are going to have to manage his workload carefully if they want him to contribute the entire 2024 season. Verlander hasn't made more than 28 starts in a season since 2019 and given how things are trending, expect him to get more breaks and make less than 25 starts in 2024. At the end of the day, Father Time is undefeated.