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Monday, March 09, 2020

Astros pull Justin Verlander from second spring start with sore triceps

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander was pulled from his spring training start against the New York Mets after two innings Sunday because of triceps soreness, the team said.

Verlander had been scheduled to pitch four innings but felt discomfort during the second inning and was sent for testing.

“We don’t know if he is hurt,” manager Dusty Baker told reporters. “Like I said, it’s precautionary. I was surprised his velocity was down a tick from the last time, but you know Verlander can dial it up when he gets ready. We didn’t see anything. I was quite surprised when [pitching coach Brent Strom] came over and told me he had to come out of the game.”

So it begins…..


QLE Posted: March 09, 2020 at 12:46 AM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: justin verlander, spring training, triceps

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   1. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: March 09, 2020 at 12:41 PM (#5928986)
Dusty has already shredded his arm.
   2. Blastin Posted: March 09, 2020 at 01:31 PM (#5929004)
I was saying that the stats projecting them to be just as good as last year seemed to be ignoring the not-tiny chance that, HOFers though they may be, relying entirely on guys that old not to break is... not wise when you didn't bring in any pitchers.

It's a mild lat strain, according to the MRI, btw.

   3. Walt Davis Posted: March 09, 2020 at 08:54 PM (#5929123)
I'm not sure old pitchers are really that much more likely to break than young pitchers. That is, all teams should do their best to prepare for 1-3 of their SPs being unavailable for extended periods of the season -- but I'm not sure age has a lot to do with it. Pitchers aren't ageless of course but the injury rates of young pitchers are very high and the extra risk with older pitchers is probably more dropping from 6.5 to 5.5 IP/start or adding a half-run per year to the ERA.

Since 2000, there have been 28 pitchers who had at least 500 IP in their age 34-36 seasons, from James Shields at 503 to Glavine at 685. (Verlander entering his age 37 season.) Some of these guys were pretty toasty already -- e.g. Shields is also the worst in ERA+ at 81 ... over 3 years. Half of them had an ERA+ of 101 or lower and when you figure for most of those their age 36 season was probably their worst (or they may have suffered an injury at 36), we wouldn't expect many of those guys to survive on quality alone.

Nevertheless, 22 of them pitched at age 37. 14 guys made it to at least 172 IP (Aaron Harang). Contreras and Hudson also made it over 20 starts each and Steve Sparks made 50 relief appearances so those 3 seemed pretty healthy too. Schilling, Mussina, Kuroda and Lackey had excellent seasons, Pettitte was Pettitte, Maddux and Leiter still well above-average and another 8 guys were pretty solid (Glavine at 93 ERA+).

That's not an awesome survival rate but again we'd have probably guessed that about 1/3 of those guys would be gone for performance reasons whether they were hurt or not.

Now, by contrast, there are 83 players with at least 500 IP from ages 24-26 since 2000, from Dylan Bundy at 503 to King Felix at 715 (maybe not such a great idea). Not surprisingly, these are a better class of pitchers with only one with an ERA+ over these years below 90 (Ryan Dempster about to be exiled to the pen before rediscovering himself as a starter). Still Mike Maroth and Daniel Cabrera weren't exciting anybody but, unless they were hurt at 26 or 27 or were really awful at 26 or sent to the pen at 26, we'd expect nearly all of these guys to get another year in the rotation.

So of those 83, 79 pitched at 27. 52 made it to 172 IP (Greinke). Another 16 made at least 20 starts or similar relief/start combo. Another 10 seem to have been hurt in-season (or possibly hurt late in age 26 and returned from rehab late in age 27) although some of them may have just pitched so badly they got sent down or released. (Most of those guys made it to at least 10 starts or 20 relief appearances.)

I wasn't expecting anything definitive since I expected the young pitchers to be better overall at ages 24-26 than the old guys. The young guys have a higher survival rate but that's at least partly performance-related. So that only 22 of the oldies made it to 37 at all is not surprising and "only" 5 of those 22 washed out in-season. Chris Carpenter was one guy who clearly got hurt at 37. For the youngies, you would expect nearly all of them to pitch the next season unless hurt -- they lost only 4 which weren't necessarily injury-related. Of the ones who survived, looks like 11 of 79 flopped with up to 10 of those looking superficially injury-related.

Obviously it's much less likely that a pitcher is still going pretty well at 34-36 than at 24-26 but that's not the question. The question is whether, having survived ages 34-36 and pitched well enough to want to keep around, how likely are they to survive age 37 healthy and effective? I'm confident that if we did this analysis more deeply and carefully, we'd find they are at some greater risk of both missing time and losing effectiveness but I don't expect those odds to be massively higher than at ages 24-26 ... not big enough that it's going to have a big impact on personnel decisions.

And of course what choices do the Astros have? They have built a powerful offense which offers some protection against poor pitching. And it's not like they could go out and sign a bunch of 27-year-old pitcher FAs even if they wanted to -- clearly you'd rather take your chances with Verlander at 37 than whoever their top AAA starter is. Using a crystal ball, one can argue that passing on Greinke would not have hurt their WS/playoff chances substantially while leaving them with enough $ to try to keep Cole or go after Strasburg or Bumgarner. That's already (a) possibly the best pitcher in baseball; (b) a guy who's averaged less than 160 IP over the last 5 years; (c) a guy with a "lot" of innings on his arm who missed good chunks of 2017 and 2018.

Over his last 5 years, Greinke has averaged 200 IP and a 144 ERA+. MadBum about 180 IP and 125 ERA+. Strasburg <160, 132. Cole (for completeness) 190, 134. Greinke's 2019 was better than Strasburg's or MadBum's (not as good as Cole's). But sure, you might prefer Stras and Cole over Greinke ... which is just a way of saying Greinke might only project as about the 10th-best starter for 2020. His recent greater durability doesn't guarantee better future durability but recent past fragility (Strasburg, Bumgarner) can't possibly be more promising.
   4. QLE Posted: March 10, 2020 at 12:56 AM (#5929148)
   5. Astroenteritis Posted: March 10, 2020 at 10:17 AM (#5929182)
My prediction that the Astros will miss the playoffs is based solely on the starting rotation turning into dust. Injuries to Verlander and/or Greinke would accelerate the decomposition, but the massive question marks behind them could really cause problems.
   6. pikepredator Posted: March 10, 2020 at 10:38 AM (#5929187)
He's one of my favorites (leaving the whole Astros "he should've spoken up) aspect out of it. It's always fun watching a HOFer add some strong years when they could've been washed up. Maybe those years are over for JV, but I hope not.

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