Justin Verlander had a sore triceps muscle that led the Houston Astros starting pitcher to leave today’s Grapefruit League start after two innings. Verlander, who has scheduled to go four innings, was throwing just 91-94 mph today, down from his first spring start.
The Astros say the move was precautionary, though a triceps issue is always going to be worrisome for a pitcher, and even more so when the pitcher in question is 37. Verlander missed the first two months of the 2015 season, when he was still with the Detroit Tigers, with a strained triceps.
Houston is in wait-and-see mode with Verlander now. It could be just one of those minor twinges that crops up in spring training, and which would either cost Verlander no time or minimal time. It could be something akin to the 2015 triceps injury Verlander suffered, in which case Houston would potentially be without him for a couple of months. Or it could be a worst case scenario where the triceps soreness is due to a serious elbow issue — Yu Darvish, you may recall, was experiencing triceps soreness, which led to the discovery that it was being caused by a strained UCL that required surgery.
This is especially worrisome for the Astros because they rely so heavily on Verlander to anchor their rotation. Behind Verlander is 36 year old Zack Greinke, just back from Tommy John surgery Lance McCullers, Jr., rookie Jose Urquidy, and a grab bag of question marks. The Astros are lacking in starting pitching depth, and losing Verlander for a significant period of time would take a toll on their rotation.