3 Astros who could crack Opening Day roster after Justin Verlander injury update

With Justin Verlander set to begin the year on the IL, these three Astros players now have a chance to crack the Opening Day roster.

Oct 20, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander (35) is removed from
Oct 20, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander (35) is removed from / Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports
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2) Ronel Blanco could crack the Astros Opening Day roster

Ronel Blanco has seen MLB time in each of the last two seasons for the Astros and has had mixed results. His 4.78 career ERA is far from stellar, but Blanco did have a sub-4.00 ERA when used out of the bullpen last season. That could be his role on the Opening Day roster, again, if France is healthy.

This past season was where Blanco saw his most MLB action, appearing in 17 games, starting seven of them, and posting a 4.50 ERA in 52 innings of work. He looks like mostly a depth arm as of now, but with Verlander out, he'll get a long look at potentially cracking the roster.

The Astros are known for their insanely talented pitching depth, but with Verlander joining Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia on the IL to begin the year, they have to dig deep to fill out their active roster. That's where a guy like Blanco can get a chance to shine.

So far this spring he's made three starts and has delivered 7.2 scoreless innings, which should only help his case as the regular season rapidly approaches.