Posted on: March 31, 2023, 11:00h.
Last updated on: March 31, 2023, 11:22h.
Right-handed pitcher Justin Verlander had yet to take the mound for the New York Mets before they placed the future Hall of Fame ace on the injury list with a muscle strain.
The 40-year-old Verlander joined the Mets in free agency this offseason after they signed last year’s American League Cy Young winner to a two-year deal worth $86.7 million.
Verlander was slated to start against the Miami Marlins on Saturday in the second game of the season. He’s currently on the 15-day IL.
Verlander becomes the second member of the Mets pitching staff to succumb to an injury prior to Opening Day.
A couple of weeks ago, the Mets lost closer Edwin Diaz for the season. Diaz, a right-handed flamethrower, sustained a serious and freakish knee injury while celebrating a victory for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Diaz is expected to miss the entire 2023 season while recovering from surgery to repair the patellar tendon in his right knee.
The Mets also began the season with two other pitchers on the IL, including left-handed starter Jose Quintana and right-handed reliever Sam Coonrod.
Verlander: Queens Debut Postponed
A couple of hours prior to Opening Day, the Mets announced that Verlander will miss time with a muscle injury. He was diagnosed with a low-grade strain of the teres major muscle, which is near his right shoulder.
The Mets are shutting Verlander down for at least a week to see how he responds to rest before they reevaluate his injury.
This isn’t best-case scenario,” Verlander told beat reporters on Thursday. “I would think this is probably second-best case. Very minimal.”
Verlander was worried he suffered another lat strain, which sidelined him for several months at the start of the 2020 season.
Verlander noticed a potential issue during his final start of spring training when the velocity on his pitches dipped to 91 mph. He underwent testing after he experienced pain and tightness after a bullpen session on Wednesday.
The Mets start the new season with seven road games before their home opener in two weeks. Manager Buck Showalter initially set up the rotation so that Verlander would start in the home opener at Citi Field on April 6.
It feels like crap, especially personally,” Verlander told The Athletic. “Not the way I wanted my Mets tenure to start, that’s for sure.”
The Mets called up right-handed Tylor “Big Drip” Megill from their Triple-A team in Syracuse to fill in a roster spot.
$43 Million Dollar Man
The Mets lost former ace Jacob DeGrom to the Texas Rangers in free agency, so they turned to Verlander to fill a huge hole in their starting rotation. Verlander will earn $43.3 million this season, which is the first year of a two-year deal. He has a potential vesting option worth $35 million for an additional third year in 2025.
Over his 17-season career as a starting pitcher, Verlander has a 244-133 record with a 3.24 ERA and 1.117 WHIP. He’s struck out 3,198 batters and is currently ranked #12 on the all-time strikeout list. Teammate Max Scherzer is ranked #13 overall with 3,193 strikeouts. The two hurlers expect to battle back and forth this season as they close in on Phil Niekro (ranked #11 with 3,342) and Greg Maddux (ranked #10 with 3,371).
Verlander began his career with the Detroit Tigers in 2005. In 13 seasons with the Tigers, he posted a 183-114 record with a 3.49 ERA. He won the American League MVP and secured his first Cy Young award in 2011 after a sensational season with a 24-5 record and 2.40 ERA.
The Houston Astros acquired Verlander in a trade with the Tigers in the middle of the 2017 season. He led the Astros to a pair of World Series championships in 2019 and 2022. Although he struggled with injuries in Houston, he cobbled together 102 starts with the Astros, posting a 61-19 record with a 2.26 ERA and 0.833 WHIP.
Verlander missed the entire 2021 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He bounced back last season with an 18-4 record in 28 starts with a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, and was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year. He also won a third Cy Young award, and his second with the Astros.
Betting the Mets in 2023
The defending champion Astros entered spring training as the betting favorite to win the 2023 World Series. The Astros are +600 odds to win back-to-back championships even though history isn’t on their side as a repeat champion.
The New York Yankees and Mets were the second co-favorites on DraftKings’ MLB futures board at +750 odds in late February. The Mets saw their odds slip to +950 due to Diaz’s freak injury and Verlander starting the season on the IL. The Mets are now tied with the San Diego Padres as the fourth-highest team on the futures board behind the Astros, Yankees, and Atlanta Braves.
The Braves are the consensus favorite to win the National League pennant at +370 odds, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers (+400), the Mets (+450), and Padres (+450)
The Braves won five consecutive NL East titles after they denied the Mets their first divisional crown since 2015. As the betting favorite to win the NL East at +100 odds, the Braves find themselves ahead of the Mets (+170), Philadelphia Phillies (+400), Miami Marlins (+2500), and the Washington Nationals (+25000).
Last season, the Mets went 101-61 and secured a postseason berth as a wild-card team. The Padres eliminated the Mets in the 2022 NL wild card.
The Mets entered the 2023 regular season with a projected win total of 93.5 games, according to DraftKings.