Justin Verlander’s rough rehab start creates more concern for Astros rotation

This is less than ideal.
Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander
Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

The Houston Astros are hurting. Joe Espada's first year as manager has seen Houston get off to a horrific start just one year after taking the eventual World Series champion Texas Rangers to seven games in the ALCS.

But Houston has been hit hard by injuries. Luis Garcia, Kendall Graveman, and Lance McCullers Jr. all began the season on the 60-day injured list. Barely a week into the 2024 season, Astros left-hander Framber Valdez was sidelined with an injury as well.

But at least Justin Verlander is coming back, right? Well, yes, but after Verlander's tune-up performances in the minor leagues, Astros fans may want their ace to entertain the idea of one more rehab start before returning to the major leagues.

Astros starter Justin Verlander was shelled during his latest rehab start

Verlander experienced some shoulder discomfort during spring training that slowed his preparation for the 2024 season. That 41-year-old body doesn't bounce back quite the same way. Verlander was eased back into a throwing program and sent to Triple-A Sugar Land on a rehab assignment shortly after the season began.

In Verlander's first start, the former Cy Young Award-winner didn't quite look up to par. Verlander went just three innings and allowed eight of the 18 hitters he faced to reach base safely. Verlander allowed six earned runs on seven hits, including one home run, but did strikeout six batters.

But Verlander's most recent outing for Double-A Corpus Christi was just as bad, if not worse. The right-hander made it through just four innings while allowing five earned runs on seven hits. Verlander struck out just three batters, threw two wild pitches, and was taken out of the game after throwing 78 pitches.

While Astros fans will gladly take Verlander's performance over what they've seen from Hunter Brown and J.P France, it's a bit troubling to see the nine-time All-Star struggle the way he has during his two rehab outings.

All signs point to Verlander re-joining the Astros starting rotation as soon as Friday in Washington. That will be a welcome sight for Astros fans, so long as it's the version of Verlander we all know and love. If the former MVP struggles, the overarching tone among the Houston faithful may go from bad to worse.

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