Astros RHP Justin Verlander not ruled out for Opening Day

Field Level Media

March 01, 2024 at 4:58 pm.

A more intense bullpen session on Sunday will help determine if Justin Verlander can still be an option for the Houston Astros on Opening Day.

“I’m a little bit behind schedule right now,” he said at the start of spring training. “I’m a couple weeks behind.”

Verlander came out of a Tuesday bullpen session feeling good, but hasn’t pitched in an exhibition game.

He turned 41 last month and was dealing with shoulder discomfort when full squad workouts began Feb. 14. He continues preparing for his 19th season in the major leagues with what he said was a cautious throwing program.

Verlander is scheduled to throw an extended bullpen session this weekend before Houston decides what his next steps will be and whether he’ll be in play for the March 28 regular-season opener.

Verlander said he prioritized rest in the offseason, which created a tighter window for upramping to face live hitters.

“He never stopped throwing the whole time,” Astros general manager Dana Brown said. “We have to remember that he is an older guy, but he knows his body. So he delayed it a little bit. I think he is going to be fine.

“If he was on the shelf and we had to shut him down or something like that, I would be concerned. But he is still throwing bullpens. He is still out there pitching. He is still working on his craft, so I think he is going to be fine.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner and two-time World Series champion finished 13-8 with a 3.22 ERA while splitting the 2023 season with the New York Mets and Astros.

Verlander heads into the 2024 season as the active MLB leader in wins (257). The nine-time All-Star has a 3.24 ERA and 3,342 strikeouts in 509 career starts with the Detroit Tigers, Mets and Astros.