Astros top prospect’s path to Opening Day roster widened after Verlander’s injury

Justin Verlander's latest injury stinks, but it could open the door for the Astros' top prospect to make his big league debut.
Feb 26, 2024; Lakeland, Florida, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Spencer Arrighetti (75) pitches during
Feb 26, 2024; Lakeland, Florida, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Spencer Arrighetti (75) pitches during / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

It is never good news when an establish player gets hurt. When that player is Houston Astros aceJustin Verlander, who will start the season on the IL given his stature and how much the Astros have invested in him, the news is uniquely worse.

The silver lining with Verlander not being ready to start the season isn't due to him having any setbacks from the shoulder issue that put him behind early on in spring training. If anything, it is just an acknowledgement of the reality that starting pitchers, especially ones who are a bit longer in the tooth like Verlander, take time to get stretched out and ready to start. Verlander just lost too much time early on.

If there's another silver lining here, it's that the Astros seem to be well-equipped to handle the short-term loss of Verlander with their current pitching depth in camp. In fact, Verlander's injury could be the opportunity that Spencer Arrighetti needed to force Houstion to give him a shot early in 2024.

Spencer Arrighetti's presence could soften Astros blow from loss of Justin Verlander

Before it was revealed that Verlander wasn't going to be ready, Arrighetti was already impressing down at spring training. From the way he carries himself on a daily basis to his raw stuff, Astros coaches and personnel have been effusive in their praise of his work. While the opportunities for playing time were limited heading into camp, Arrighetti has remained firmly in the conversation.

Now, with Verlander down for a little while (at least), the Astros may need to rip the band-aid off and give Arrighetti a shot. He has some of the most upside amongst their rotation options already and the extra spot in the rotation could allow them to slot in Arrighetti while also adding one of the Astros' more experienced starter candidates.

How this all shakes out will largely be determined by Verlander's recovery timeline. If Houston is right and Verlander is just a little bit behind, then maybe the Astros don't rush to start Arrighetti's service time clock just yet.

However, if Verlander's absence is going to be longer than a couple starts and/or he requires a rehab stint in the minor leagues, Arrighetti could quickly become one of the Astros' best options to weather the storm.

More Astros News from Climbing Tal's Hill