Is Justin Verlander's early-season injury to blame for Astros' latest rotation loss?

It sounds like the Astros may have mishandled JP France's shoulder injury and it may have cost them both dearly.
New York Yankees v Houston Astros
New York Yankees v Houston Astros / Tim Warner/GettyImages

The Houston Astros' have really been through it when it comes to injuries to their starting pitching staff. They came into the season hoping that Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. would be able to recover from their long-term injuries, but now Justin Verlander is dealing with his second injury of the year, Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier both had season-ending elbow surgeries, and JP France suffered a brutal setback in his rehab from a shoulder injury. In short, the Astros' pitching staff is not having a good time.

Sadly, that situation only got worse on Wednesday when it was revealed that France had surgery on his ailing shoulder and is now officially out for at least this season. While that isn't a complete surprise, as having a setback during shoulder injury rehab is rarely a good sign, what was more interesting was general manager Dana Brown's candor as to how the Astros handled France's injury from the beginning.

Astros rushed France back with Verlander out and now they are without either pitcher

The specifics on the exact nature of France's injury and surgery are scant at the moment, although we do know that it will be done by Dr. Keith Meister (who is quickly becoming the go-to baseball surgeon) and that it should take place this coming Monday. We also know that France will miss the rest of the 2024 regular season, although betting a longer absence than that is probably wise as shoulder surgeries often take a long time to recover from.

However, the report also included some pretty interesting and frankly troubling comments from Brown as he indicated that France's shoulder was bothering him this spring, but the team did press him a bit to recover as their rotation was in a precarious position to start the season with Verlander also dealing with an injury. France pitched through his discomfort as a result and now the Astros are without him for the rest of the year ... and Verlander is out yet again.

Ultimately, how the Astros weather this development is going to depend a lot on Verlander's recovery from neck soreness. France had already been optioned to the minors and hasn't been in their game plan for most of the season. However, if Verlander's injury proves to be a long-term problem, the lack of pitching depth partially caused by France's injury could be costly as the season progresses unless Houston adds some pitching help before the trade deadline.

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