Scratched from start, Verlander pleased with simulated game

Local Sports

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander (35) watches before throwing during spring training baseball practice, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Justin Verlander pitched a two-inning simulated game  in place of what had been scheduled as his spring training debut, a switch made because of groin tightness. The Houston Astros ace threw approximately 30 pitches off a back-field mound before the Astros’ game against Washington.

New Houston manager Dusty Baker liked what he saw of the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. Verlander was 21-6 with a 2.52 ERA last season. Baker thinks Verlander will start on Tuesday against St. Louis in Jupiter. Verlander won’t commit until he sees how he recovers.

On Thursday evening the Astros and Nationals played to a 5-5 game that was called after nine innings at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches where they both call their spring training home. 22 year old Cristian Javier got the start for Houston and pitched two innings, allowing an earned run while striking out four. Max Scherzer got the start for the World Series champions and pitched three innings allowing two runs, one of them earned while striking out five.

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