Astros place Justin Verlander on IL in another blow to rotation that puts his 2025 contract status in jeopardy

The Houston Astros placed Justin Verlander on the 15-day injured list on Tuesday with neck discomfort in another blow to Houston's hobbled rotation.

The move also puts Verlander's 2025 contract status in jeopardy. Verlander has a $35 million player option for 2025 that only vests if he pitches 140 or more innings this season.

Verlander's thrown 57 innings so far, and the 33-39 Astros have played 44.4% of their regular season schedule, leaving him already behind pace to reach the 140-inning threshold. He started the season on the IL and made his season debut three weeks into the season on April 19.

Verlander, 41, could still conceivably reach 140 innings. But he'd need to return shortly form his IL stint and remain healthy and available for the bulk of the remainder of the season to have a reasonable chance at logging 83 more innings.

If he doesn't reach the threshold, he'll become a free agent in the offseason. A three-time Cy Young winner, Verlander has a 3.95 ERA and 1.211 WHIP with 51 strikeouts and 17 walks in 2024.

Per The Athletic, Verlander said that he's been dealing with neck pain for "a couple weeks" and initially tried to pitch through it. The Astros scratched him from Saturday's start against the Detroit Tigers before placing him on the IL Tuesday ahead of a scheduled start against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

It's not clear how long he'll be sidelined. The IL stint is retroactive to June 16, meaning that he'll be eligible to return to the active roster on June 30. An already thin Astros rotation could use him as soon as he's ready. The Astros called up right hander Nick Hernandez from Triple-A Sugar Land in a corresponding move.

Starters Cristian Javier and José Urquidy have both undergone season-ending elbow surgery. Starter Lance McCullers Jr. hasn't pitched since having surgery last June to remove bone spurs and repair the flexor tendon in his throwing arm. He hopes to pitch this season, but it's not yet clear when he'll be able to return.

The Astros, meanwhile, are nine games behind the first-place Seattle Mariners in the AL West and at risk of missing the postseason for the first time since 2016.

Comments on this article