Oakland A’s: Justin Verlander injury opens door to division title
By David Hill
The Houston Astros suffered a major blow to their rotation on Sunday with Justin Verlander’s injury, and threw the door wide open for the Oakland A’s in the AL West.
The Houston Astros postseason hopes essentially rested on two pitchers – Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. They formed a formidable duo atop the rotation, and were also what the Astros had to count on in their quest to remain atop the American League West, as the rest of the rotation is comprised of unknown quantities.
The hopes for the Astros took a serious blow on Sunday. Verlander has been shut down with a forearm strain, and will be re-evaluated in a couple of weeks.
Although Verlander had dealt with injuries in spring training in March, he had looked sharp on Opening Day. In that start, he allowed just two runs on just three hits and a walk, striking out seven. However, he did say that his arm was “tender” during the outing.
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This injury, and the Astros now shakier rotation, open the door for the Oakland A’s. As the Astros are losing an important member to their rotation, the A’s may have Jesus Luzardo set to rejoin the group in short order. Oakland also has far more depth on the pitching staff, even with A.J. Puk sidelined.
While the Astros still have a formidable offense, the A’s do as well. With Marcus Semien was an MVP candidate last season, and the A’s have a trio of emergent stars to help carry the load. But it is the pitching staff, which is now getting healthy once again, that gives the A’s the advantage currently.
Perhaps that can be the difference. The A’s have been stuck battling for the Wild Card with the Astros stranglehold on the division. While that had already weakened due to their losses in free agency, losing Verlander for any length of time will only benefit the A’s this year.
Losing Justin Verlander for even two weeks in the shortened season is a major blow to the Houston Astros. But that also opens the door for the Oakland A’s to take the division.