Hiatus 'A Blessing In Disguise' For Astros' Justin Verlander

(SportsRadio 610) -- If the Major League Baseball season had not been postponed, the Astros would be starting their first interleague matchup against the New York Mets. 
They would be without reigning American League Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who was sidelined in spring training last month due to groin surgery.

The timeline for Verlander's return was six to eight weeks, which would put him back on the mound toward the end of April, about a month into the season that would have been. 

Instead, the league and players' union are considering a scenario in which play resumes in either May or June, with teams isolated in the Phoenix area and no fan attendance at games.

The idea seems far-fetched, but these are desperate times and it's one of few viable options to play. 

If there is somehow an abbreviated MLB season, the time off benefits Verlander. 

Not only is he healing from groin surgery, but Verlander sustained a mild lat strain March 8. 

Astros manager Dusty Baker appeared recently on the Astros Podcast with Robert Ford and Steve Sparks. 

Without minimizing the larger implications of the COVID-19 health crisis, Baker expressed some relief in Verlander having more recovery time. 

"This is actually a blessing in disguise for him," Baker said. "It's bad for the world and it's bad for baseball. But it's good for the guys that are injured, because imagine going the first six to eight weeks of the season without Justin Verlander. We were trying to figure out how we were going to pull this off. 

"It gives him an opportunity to heal, to get his arm in shape."

The Astros would rely on Verlander, Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. returning from Tommy John surgery to lead their rotation.

Beyond those three, Houston's options at starting pitcher are thin. 

Jose Urquidy is expected to be the fourth starter. The competition for the fifth starter was in earnest when spring training was canceled March 12.
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