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Astros’ 2020 World Series Odds After Justin Verlander Potentially Lost for Season

Verlander throwing
Justin Verlander suffered a forearm strain in his first start of the 2020 MLB season. Photo from Keith Allison (Flickr)
  • An MRI revealed Sunday that Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander had a strained forearm after initial reports of him being out for the season had leaked
  • Verlander will not throw for two weeks then be reevaluated by team doctors
  • Have the Astros World Series odds taken a significant hit with the potential loss of their ace?

The Houston Astros received some potentially season-altering news Sunday when an MRI revealed that reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander has a strained right forearm.

Verlander will not throw for two weeks then be reevaluated. It figures Verlander would need at least another two weeks to rebuild arm strength before being ready to return to action.

While a month is not usually a long time in baseball, being out that long is a major blow this year with the season shortened to 60 games over nine weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the news of Verlander’s injury, the Astros are now tied for the fourth choice to win the World Series.

Odds to Win 2020 World Series

Team Odds at FanDuel
Dodgers +400
Yankees +400
Twins +1200
Braves +1400
Astros +1400
Rays +1400
Mets +2000
Nationals +2000
Athletics +2200
Reds +2300
Indians +2300

Odds taken July 26th

Title Odds Steadily Fading

The Astros opened as the favorites to win the 2020 World Series at +550 on Oct. 31st, a day after losing to the Washington Nationals in Game 7 of the 2019 Fall Classic.

However, Houston’s World Series odds have faded since then, following a tumultuous offseason.

General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were fired when Major League Baseball found the Astros had illegally stolen catchers’ signs electronically during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The odds grew longer when the Astros were unable to re-sign Gerrit Cole, who joined the New York Yankees via free agency on a nine-year, $324-million contract. Cole was second to Verlander in the Cy Young voting last year.

A Career Resurgence

Verlander’s career has been rejuvenated since the Astros acquired him from the Detroit Tigers in a trade on Aug. 31, 2017. The right-hander helped Houston win its first-ever World Series title that year and continued to shine in 2018 and 2019.

Since joining the Astros, Verlander has compiled a sparkling 43-15 record and 2.45 ERA in 74 games.

The 37-year-old looked sharp in his lone start this season, holding the visiting Seattle Mariners to two runs in six innings in an opening-night win last Friday.

However, Astros manager Dusty Baker said Verlander felt “tenderness” in his elbow area a day after the start and underwent an MRI that revealed the strain.

The Houston Chronicle originally reported Sunday that Verlander would miss the remainder of the season.

Though forearm injuries are often a precursor to Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, Verlander denied he was done for the year.

Rotation Thins Out

With Cole gone and Verlander on the IL, the Astros’ starting pitching is thin as the franchise attempts to win a fourth consecutive AL West title.

The Astros still have a premier pitcher in Zack Greinke, who was 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 starts last season after being acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

However, Greinke is also 36 years old and has pitched over 2,800 innings in his career. He looked shaky in his season debut Sunday, lasting just 3.1 innings and allowing three runs in a loss to the Mariners.

Lance McCullers Jr. was an All-Star in 2017 when he helped the Astros win it all, but missed last season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

The other two members of the rotation, left-hander Framber Valdez and Josh James, have made a combined 17 starts in the big leagues.

The Astros still have a fearsome lineup and a strong bullpen.

Yet starting pitching is what wins championships and it is hard to image the Astros getting back to the World Series with their current rotation and Verlander being such a question mark.

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