Astros’ Baker: Verlander ‘probably not’ Opening Day starter

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Two-time AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander is taking the hill for the Houston Astros during their spring training game against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday. According to manager Dusty Baker though, it likely won’t be Verlander getting the starting nod for the team when the begin the regular season next week.

“JV” made just one start in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign before being shut down for the season due to a forearm injury. He underwent Tommy John surgery in September of that year and missed the entire 2021 season as well.

Prior to the beginning of the nearly 100-day lockout, Verlander agreed to a one-year, $25 million deal to stay with the Astros after originally joining the team in August 2017. In addition to his pair of Cy Young honors, the 39-year-old captured a rare MVP award for a starting pitcher in 2011 after posting career bests (and league bests) in wins (24) and ERA (2.40), while also leading the league in innings pitched (251.0), strikeouts (250) and WHIP (0.92).

An eight-time All-Star, Verlander ranks first among active pitchers in wins (226) and second in innings pitched (2,988.0), strikeouts (3,013), games started (454) and complete games (26).

Valdez is entering his fifth MLB season and is coming off his most successful year in 2021. In 22 games (all starts), Valdez posted an 11-6 record and led all Houston starting pitchers with a 3.14 ERA, while producing a 1.24 WHIP as well.

The 28-year-old has a career mark of 24-17 across 67 games, including 45 starts, while registering a 3.74 ERA and 1.31 WHIP.



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