Justin Verlander's IL stint could make Astros-Mets trade even more lopsided

Steve Cohen must be very happy right about now.
Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander
Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The Houston Astros lost starting pitcher Justin Verlander for the second time this season after the veteran was placed on the 15-day injured list with neck stiffness. Verlander had been pitching through the issue over the past few weeks, but after having his start pushed back, it was eventually deemed too bothersome to keep him on the active roster.

The Astros will have to monitor Verlander's condition for the time being, and the right-hander will not be throwing until there's a clear path ahead of him. At the moment, there's no timetable for Verlander's return to the Astros starting rotation.

That's awful news for the Astros, who've seen numerous starters land on the IL this season. Houston has been without Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia since Opening Day and have watched the likes of Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy land on the 60-day IL with arm issues. Even rookie hurlerJake Bloss couldn't make it through his debut without suffering a setback.

Justin Verlander's trip to IL is bad news for the Astros, but great news for the Mets

But the Astros' woes are terrific news for the New York Mets and their owner Steve Cohen. The Mets traded Verlander to the Astros at last year's deadline after failing to capitalize on a rather expensive offseason.

The Mets inked Verlander along with Kodai Senga, Jose Quintana, Omar Narvaez, and Adam Ottavno to free agent contracts. Additionally, New York locked up both Brandon Nimmo and Edwin Díaz to hefty contract extensions. It was a costly winter in New York and the Mets didn't even make the MLB postseason.

However, Cohen and the Mets stand to save some dough if Verlander isn't back on the field rather quickly. The Mets are on the hook for half of Verlander's vesting option for the 2025 season. But in order to trigger the option, Verlander must reach 140 innings pitched. That seems like a long shot at the moment.

Verlander is sitting at 57 innings pitched in 10 starts this season. Verlander needed 27 starts to reach 162 innings last season, and 28 games to eclipse 175 the year before. The former Cy Young Award winner is going to need to get back on the mound rather quickly and pitch deep into a number of games if he hopes to trigger than option.

Cohen has no problem spending money, so this is little more than a drop in the bucket to the Mets' owner. But it may change how New York approaches the trade deadline and free agency next winter. As for the Astros, they just want Verlander back in order to have a chance at winning the AL West and getting back to the playoffs.

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