Justin Verlander to Start 2021 Season on Injured List for New York Mets

Right-handed pitcher Justin Verlander had yet to take the mound for the New York Mets before they placed the future Hall of Fame ace on the injury list due to a muscle strain.

Verlander joined the Mets in free agency this offseason after they signed last year’s American League Cy Young winner to a two-year deal worth $86.7 million. He was expected to start against the Miami Marlins on Saturday in the second game of the season. However, he is now on the 15-day IL.

Verlander is the second Mets pitcher to suffer an injury prior to Opening Day, following the loss of closer Edwin Diaz for the season. Diaz, a right-handed flame thrower, sustained a serious and freakish knee injury while celebrating a victory for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Diaz is expected to miss the entire 2023 season while undergoing surgery to repair the patellar tendon in his right knee.

The Mets also began the season with two other pitchers on the IL, including left-handed starter Jose Quintana and right-handed reliever Sam Coonrod.

Verlander was diagnosed with a low-grade strain of the teres major muscle, which is near his right shoulder. The Mets are shutting down Verlander for at least a week to see how he responds to rest before they re-evaluate his injury.

The Mets called up right-handed Tylor “Big Drip” Megill from their Triple-A team in Syracuse to fill in a roster spot.

The Mets turned to Verlander to fill a huge gap in their starting rotation after losing former ace Jacob DeGrom to the Texas Rangers in free agency. Verlander will earn $43.3 million this season, which is the first year of a two-year deal. He has a potential vesting option worth $35 million for an additional third year in 2025.

Over his 17-season career as a starting pitcher, Verlander has a 244-133 record with a 3.24 ERA and 1.117 WHIP. He struck out 3,198 batters, and he’s currently ranked #12 on the all-time strikeout list.

Verlander began his career with the Detroit Tigers in 2005. In 13 seasons with the Tigers, he posted a 183-114 record with a 3.49 ERA. He won the American League MVP and secured his first Cy Young award in 2011, after a sensational season with a 24-5 record and 2.40 ERA.

The Houston Astros acquired Verlander in a trade with the Tigers during the middle of the 2017 season. He led the Astros to a pair of World Series championships in 2019 and 2022. Although he struggled with injuries in Houston, he managed to make 102 starts with the Astros, and posted a 61-19 record with a 2.26 ERA and 0.833 WHIP.

Verlander missed the entire 2021 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He returned last season with an 18-4 record in 28 starts with a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, and was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year. He also won a third Cy Young award, and his second with the Astros.

The defending champion Astros entered Spring Training as the betting favorite to win the 2023 World Series. The Astros are +600 odds to win back-to-back championships, even though history is not on their side as a repeat champion.

The New York Yankees and Mets were the second co-favorites on DraftKings’ MLB futures board at +750 odds in late February. However, the Mets saw their odds slip to +950 due to Diaz’s freak injury and Verlander starting the season on the IL. The Mets are now tied with the San Diego Padres as the fourth-highest team on the futures board behind the Astros, Yankees, and Atlanta Braves.

The Braves are the consensus favorite to win the National League pennant at +370 odds, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers (+400), Mets (+450), and Padres (+450). The Braves won five consecutive NL East titles, after they denied the Mets their first divisional crown since 2015. As the betting favorite to win the NL East at +100 odds, the Braves find themselves ahead of the Mets (+170), Philadelphia Phillies (+400), Miami Marlins (+2500), and the Washington Nationals (+25000).

Last season, the Mets went 101-61 and secured a postseason berth as a wild-card team. The Padres eliminated the Mets in the 2022 NL Wild Card.

The Mets entered the 2023 regular season with a projected win total of 93.5 games, according to DraftKings.