Astros' Justin Verlander says evolution of pitching the 'biggest' factor in wave of injuries

Astros’ Justin Verlander says evolution of pitching the ‘biggest’ factor in wave of injuries

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Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander joins the ranks of the many concerned over the rising injuries plaguing MLB pitchers this season, but he believes it’s not as simple as blaming the league’s new pitch clock rules. 

“I don’t know, man. It’s tough,” Verlander said Saturday, speaking to KPRC. “I think the game has changed a lot. I think it would be easiest to blame the pitch clock.”

Justin Verlander jogging

Justin Verlander of the Astros warms up prior to Game Six of the American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park on Oct. 22, 2023, in Houston. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Verlander, who made his first start on Sunday for the Houston Astros’ Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys as he continues rehab a shoulder issue, said he believes the uptick in injuries comes down to the evolution of pitching today. 


“I think in reality, you put everything together and everything has a bit of influence. I think the biggest thing is that the style of pitching has changed so much. Everybody is throwing the ball as hard as they possibly can and spinning the ball as hard as they possibly can. It’s hard to deny those results, obviously.” 

“Something needs to change. I don’t have all the answers.”

Justin Verlander throws a pitch

Corey Seager of the Rangers hits a double against Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros during the sixth inning in Game Five of the ALCS at Globe Life Field on Oct. 20, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, pitcher injuries continue to stack up early in the season. 

Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, Atlanta’s Spencer Strider, the New York Yankees’ Jonathan Loáisiga, Miami’s Eury Pérez and Oakland’s Trevor Gott are among the pitchers diagnosed with elbow injuries.


Over the weekend, the players’ association released a statement pointing the finger at the pitch clock – a rule that was implemented at the start of the 2023 season. 

“Despite unanimous player opposition and significant concerns regarding health and safety, the commissioner’s office reduced the length of the pitch clock last December, just one season removed from imposing the most significant rule change in decades,” union executive director Tony Clark said Saturday night in a statement.

“Since then, our concerns about the health impacts of reduced recovery time have only intensified,” Clark said. “The league’s unwillingness thus far to acknowledge or study the effects of these profound changes is an unprecedented threat to our game and its most valuable asset – the players.”


MLB fired back, saying the union’s claim “ignores the empirical evidence and much more significant long-term trend, over multiple decades, of velocity and spin increases that are highly correlated with arm injuries.”

Justin Verlander on the mound

Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros reacts against the Texas Rangers during Game Five of the ALCS on Oct. 20, 2023. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

For Verlander, the issue should be addressed as a top priority. He says he fears the impacts could reach as far down as Little League. 

“I just hope that we don’t wait too long. It’s obviously a pandemic and it’s going to take years to work itself out, because everybody right now – Little League on – go look no further than Instagram. I can’t look at my Instagram feed without seeing some kid trying to learn how to throw as hard as he can at 10 years old. I sure as hell didn’t do that.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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