The Houston Astros head to Minneapolis for Games 3 and 4 of the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins. The Astros won Game 1 of the series, but fell short in Game 2 thanks to a dominant start by Pablo Lopez and a solid performance by former Astro Carlos Correa.
With the series tied at one game apiece, the Astros have made a key decision about their ace, Justin Verlander, who gave them six shutout innings against the Twins in Game 1. According to Bobby Nightengale, manager Dusty Baker has stated that Verlander is unlikely to draw the start in Game 4 on short rest.
This is a decision that could come back to haunt the Astros. Baker's reason for not having Verlander start on short rest was a potential risk for an injury. At the moment, the Astros have not announced their Game 4 starter. Cristian Javier will start Game 3 against Sonny Gray this afternoon.
Why not starting Justin Verlander could haunt the Astros
If the Astros are down 2-1 in the series after Game 3, not having Verlander start could pose a problem. The injury risk is an important thing to keep in mind. Verlander has dealt with his fair share of injuries over the past several years. He also turned 40 years old in February.
Still, it's possible that things could change if the Astros are to lose Game 3. A loss might force their hand and prompt them to use Verlander on short rest for Game 4 as they try to force Game 5. That would likely set Framber Valdez up for the clincher. Valdez would be on full rest.
Of course, everything depends on Game 3 of the series between the Astros and Twins. If Houston wins Game 3, they could go with Hunter Brown or Jose Urquidy in Game 4, with Verlander being set up for Game 5.