Justin Verlander headed to injured list due to forearm strain

Justin Verlander forearm injury
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7:05 PM EDT: Verlander responds to the initial report:

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6:06 PM EDT: Justin Verlander is dealing with a forearm strain, Astros manager Dusty Baker said, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Verlander will be reevaluated in a couple of weeks. While Baker did not say Verlander is “out for the season” as the initial report suggested, it is a significant setback all the same.

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Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports that Astros ace Justin Verlander will miss the remainder of the 2020 season due to an elbow injury. At the moment, no other details about the injury are known.

Verlander, 37, started on Opening Day against the Mariners on Friday, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts over six innings. He is the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, going 21-6 last season with a 2.58 ERA, 300 strikeouts, and 42 walks over 223 innings.

Injuries happen, but one also wonders if the relatively short three-week ramp-up time afforded to players affected Verlander’s propensity to get injured. Verlander also recently said that he changed his mechanics in order to prolong his career. Perhaps the mechanical change had the opposite of the intended effect.

Verlander inked a two-year, $66 million extension with the Astros in March 2019. He’s under contract next season and then can become a free agent.

Needless to say, this is a huge blow to the Astros, who lost Gerrit Cole to free agency and will now go the rest of 2020 without Verlander. Zack Greinke becomes the de facto ace of a depleted starting rotation that also includes Lance McCullers Jr., Josh James, and Framber Valdez. Jose Urquidy recently reported to the Astros’ alternate training site in Corpus Christi and could take Verlander’s spot.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.