As the Houston Astros draw closer to the start of the shortened 2020 season, there are a lot of decisions that still need to be made and manager Dusty Baker has started to figure out the starting rotation.
It comes as no surprise that ace Justin Verlander will start on Opening Day when the Astros host the Seattle Mariners on July 24th. The veteran right-hander was going to miss the original start of the season after undergoing groin surgery in mid-March, but he’ll receive another Opening Day start following the multi-month shutdown.
Baker also addressed the Astros rotation after Verlander, indicating that right now Lance McCullers Jr. is ahead of Zack Greinke and perhaps could start Game 2 against the Mariners. The reason why Grienke is behind McCullers is that the veteran missed out on practice due to it being canceled earlier this week due to COVID-19 tests being delayed. He’s expected to pitch in an intrasquad scrimmage on Thursday.
In other Astros news, relief pitcher Joe Smith is opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns about COVID-19 according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic. Smith was a key part of the Astros bullpen last season, posting a 1.80 ERA in 28 appearances after returning from a torn Achilles tendon.