The Houston Astros will be without another starting pitcher to begin the regular season. Right-hander José Urquidy, after exiting Saturday's game with elbow pain, has been diagnosed with a forearm strain and will begin the season on the injured list, manager Joe Espada announced Monday (per The Athletic). Espada did not provide any information about Urquidy's UCL.

Forearm strains are a common symptom of ligament damage and often a precursor to Tommy John surgery, but not always. Atlanta Braves lefty Max Fried missed three months with a forearm strain last season but returned late in the year and pitched well, and thus far as avoided going under the knife. The Astros will hope Urquidy can do the same.

Jose Urquidy
HOU • SP • #65
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The 28-year-old Urquidy was 3-3 with a 5.29 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in only 63 innings last season after being hampered by a shoulder injury. The Astros now have close to a full starting rotation slated to begin the regular season on the injured list. Their rotation depth chart looks like this at the moment:

  1. RHP Justin Verlander (will miss start of 2024 with shoulder issue)
  2. LHP Framber Valdez
  3. RHP Cristian Javier
  4. RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (out until midseason after flexor surgery)
  5. RHP José Urquidy (will miss start of 2024 with forearm strain)
  6. RHP Luis Garcia (out until midseason after Tommy John surgery)
  7. RHP Hunter Brown
  8. RHP J.P. France
  9. RHP Ronel Blanco

Verlander threw a "light" bullpen Sunday and it's possible he'll progress to a live batting practice session next time out (via The Athletic). The 41-year-old right-hander got a late start this spring due to a balky shoulder and is working his way back. He'll start the season on the injured list, but it doesn't sound like he's too far behind at this point. Maybe a month or so. 

The Astros were recently connected to reigning NL Cy Young winner and the still-unsigned Blake Snell, who is said to be seeking a two-year deal in the $60 million range with an opt out. Snell reportedly threw a four-inning simulated game for interested teams last week, suggesting he is fairly well stretched out and not too far away from being MLB ready. There's never a bad time to add a pitcher like Snell, and all the pitching injuries could push the Astros into action.

After winning the World Series in 2022, the Astros won the AL West at 90-72 last season and lost Game 7 of the ALCS to the Texas Rangers