Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander exited his start against the Baltimore Orioles (GameTracker) on Sunday because of right calf discomfort, according to MLB.com. Verlander was replaced by reliever Seth Martinez.
Prior to Verlander’s departure, he had thrown three shutout innings. Verlander had surrendered three hits and a walk in that span. He’d also struck out six of the 12 batters he faced on a total of 60 pitches. It’s worth noting that Verlander had shown no signs of distress with his velocity: his final three pitches of the day each clocked in north of 95 mph, suggesting the injury must not have been bugging him too much.
Verlander, who missed most of the last two seasons because of Tommy John surgery, entered Sunday having made 23 starts this season. In those outings, he’d accumulated a 1.87 ERA (good for a 203 ERA+) and a 5.92 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His performance was good enough to earn him a nod to the All-Star Game, the ninth of his career, and should put him in the running for the American League Cy Young Award. Verlander has previously won a pair of Cy Young Awards: one in 2011, another in 2019.
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It’s unclear if Verlander will be sidelined at this stage. The Astros can afford to rest him for a turn through the rotation if they so desire. The Astros came into Sunday with an 11.5-game lead in the AL West over the Seattle Mariners. Considering the Astros have only 33 games remaining after Sunday’s contest, it would take an utter collapse for the Mariners to be a realistic threat to overtake them.