The AL West race just got a lot more interesting for the A's because of their rivals' pitching injuries and struggles.
Dusty Baker on Verlander injury: "It's a forearm strain. He's shut down for a couple of weeks and we'll reevaluate at that time. That's all I can tell you."— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) July 26, 2020
Verlander tweeted that a Houston Chronicle report of him being shut down for the season was false, but he did confirm the forearm strain.
The report that I'm currently missing the rest of the season is not accurate. There is a forearm strain... I'm hopeful that with some rest it will heal and I'll be able to return soon. Thank you for all the well wishes. 🙏🏻— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) July 26, 2020
The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner pitched Friday in the Astros' season opener against the Seattle Mariners and did relatively well, striking out seven in six innings and giving up just three hits. His pitch velocity looked fine, as he averaged 94.9 mph on his fastball.
Verlander has proven to be an extremely durable, productive starter over his 16-year career, and he struck out 300 in 34 starts last season. With the 37-year-old sidelined, though, the A's will face one less reliable starter during a shortened season in which all 60 games weigh heavier in a pennant race.
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Verlander typically thrives against the A's, holding them to a .207 batting average across 24 games.
The Texas Rangers also faced a setback with two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who left Sunday's outing against the Colorado Rockies early because of shoulder tightness. He threw 18 pitches to three batters.
Kluber, who hadn't pitched in 15 months after a comebacker broke his right forearm, likely would have faced the A's on Friday in Oakland.
According to the Associated Press, Kluber felt tightness during the first few pitches, and it got worse as the inning progressed. He will be further evaluated Monday.
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Also, Los Angeles Angels starter Shohei Ohtani left Sunday's game against the A's early after giving up five earned runs on three hits and three walks in the first inning. He didn't record an out in his first outing since his 2018 Tommy John surgery.
So, a lot of bad news for the division, but it's perhaps an opportunity for the A's.
Justin Verlander, Corey Kluber injuries could help A's AL West chances originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area