Astros Place Ace Justin Verlander on 15-Day IL

Astros pitcher Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander with the Astros in September 2019. Photo by Canadian Press/Shutterstock (10376893j)

The Houston Astros placed their ace Justin Verlander on the 15-day injured list on Tuesday. According to the team, Verlander is dealing with neck discomfort. The three-time Cy Young winner hasn’t pitched since a 9-7 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in which he allowed four runs.

In a corresponding move, the Astros recalled relief pitcher Nick Hernandez from their Triple-A affiliate El Paso Chihuahuas. In 17 games with Chihuahuas, Hernandez had a 1.90 ERA with 34 strikeouts.

The 2024 campaign is shaping up to be a challenging one for Verlander. He was already on 15-day IL to start the season and missed three weeks with shoulder inflammation before making his season debut. He played 10 games since, going 3-2 with a 3.95 ERA and 51 strikeouts.

Verlander’s second stint on the IL might have serious implications for both the Astros and the player. The Astros already have holes in their rotation, and the absence of their best pitcher will make it even harder for them to turn around their disappointing season.

On the other hand, Verlander is now in jeopardy of missing the threshold for a $35 million player option next season. In order for that option to vest, Verlander needs to pitch in at least 140 innings. He is currently at 57 innings, with almost half of the season already behind us. In order to reach the threshold, he would have to stage a swift return while also remaining healthy until the end of the season. If that doesn’t happen, the three-time Cy Young winner will hit the free agency. 

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