Justin Verlander injury: Astros ace shut down due to lat strain; no timetable for return

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will be shut down indefinitely after he was diagnosed with a mild lat strain, the team announced on Monday. There is no timetable on a return for the right-hander, and he will likely start the 2020 season on the injured list. Verlander, 37, left a spring training start early on Sunday, and the team initially said he was experiencing "triceps soreness." An MRI revealed an issue with his lat.

Here's what general manager James Click told reporters, including MLB.com's Alyson Footer, regarding the diagnosis: "The initial MRI was a mild lat strain. It's a situation where we're going to reassess, see how he feels and right now, we're going to no-throw for a little bit."

Verlander also addressed the injury with the media on Monday, and he said "it would probably take a miracle" for him to be healthy enough for a return by Opening Day.

Verlander suffered a lat strain in 2015 while with the Tigers, and he told reporters that he does feel better than when he had the same injury five years ago. Here's what he told reporters, including Footer:

"There's a lot of similarities, as in like it happened in spring training. I don't know how i'd compare it, that's more of a doctor's thing, I know I feel better than I did then, physically. That's a lot of feedback I've gotten as far as lat strains, the scans can say a lot of stuff but one of the most important things is how you feel physically. I definitely feel better this time than I did then."

Thinking about taking Justin Verlander in your Fantasy Baseball draft? <em>CBS Sports expert Chris Towers breaks down where the Astros ace could go</em>.

Verlander had been slated to throw four innings on Sunday. Instead, he was limited to two frames.  His fastball sat between 91 to 93 mph on the stadium radar gun, a range well below his norm, as he averaged 94.6 mph with his fastball last season.

Verlander has long been the model of durability. He's thrown at least 200 innings in 12 of the last 13 seasons, including each of the last four. Additionally, he's made 30 or more starts in 13 of his 14 full big-league seasons, dating back to the 2006 campaign. That 2015 season was the only one in Verlander's career when he didn't hit 30 starts or 200 innings.

The Astros are not well positioned to deal with significant injuries to Verlander or Zack Greinke. The rest of their rotation -- Lance McCullers Jr., Josh James, and Jose Urquidy -- have never profiled as workhorse types. 

Of course, replacing Verlander would be a challenge for any team. Since joining the Astros via a late-season trade in 2017, he's posted a 2.45 ERA and a 7.54 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 73 starts. He won the AL Cy Young Award last season and finished second in the voting in 2018. Pitchers capable of that kind of sustained production don't grow on trees.

Ex-Marlins president David Samson broke down the Verlander injury on Monday's episode of Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen here:

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories