Mets place Justin Verlander on IL with low-grade shoulder strain

Tribune Content Agency

MIAMI — The Mets were set to start the season with their healthiest rotation in years, but then Justin Verlander felt something wrong in his right shoulder during a bullpen session the night before opening day at LoanDepot Park.

The Mets’ co-ace and marquee winter signing, will start the season on the injured list with a low-grade major strain in his right shoulder.

Verlander struggled with his mechanics in his final Grapefruit League start last week and his fastball velocity was down a few miles per hour. It wasn’t anything he worried about at the time, but having dealt with a lat strain in the past, he realized the soreness he felt in his bullpen was probably connected to the decrease in velocity. The Mets exercised caution in sending him to get imaging right away.

“In my bullpen yesterday, I felt just a teeny bit of something,” Verlander said Thursday ahead of the Mets’ season opener against the Miami Marlins. “When I looked back and I thought I was over it and I still felt something, I kind of connected the dots. My velocity was down in my last start and that was really the main thing.”

Verlander will skip his first start in Miami and he will not be able to start the home opener, also against the Marlins, next week at Citi Field. The Mets did not provide a timeline but he will have more imaging done when he returns to New York the day of the opener. A typical timeline for this kind of injury is about two weeks, so missing two starts is the best-case scenario.

Verlander said he would be able to pitch through it if he was making a postseason start, emphasizing that the injured list stint is precautionary. This isn’t a total shutdown, as the reigning Cy Young Award winner is still able to play catch and won’t have to build back up when he’s cleared to start again.

Right-hander Tylor Megill is being called up from Triple-A Syracuse to take his spot in the rotation. Megill was set to pitch the Syracuse opening Friday, instead, he’ll pitch Saturday in Miami and again April 6.

Verlander, a 40-year-old three-time Cy Young Award winner, was set to begin the first year of a two-year, $87 million contract.