Are the Astros Out of Playoff Contention Before They Even Get Started?

The shortened 2020 MLB season is going to be one like we’ve never seen before. With so few games to be played, every win is essential. Injuries are also going to be crucial, and it seems like the Astros have suffered one that puts them out of playoff contention already.

Working With A Thin Squad

The Astros have a thin playing squad coming into the new MLB season. That hasn’t changed, and now things have taken a turn for the worse following a forearm strain suffered by Justin Verlander.

The Astros were going to be heavily relying on their Cy Young winner, but now they are down to the bare bones while Verlander heals up for a few weeks. Even though it’s just a few weeks, this condensed schedule means every day that Verlander is missing counts.

Not Out For The Season

However, while Verlander’s absence isn’t great news, the veteran right-hander did have some encouraging words for the fans. Despite reports that Verlander was out for the season, the Astros star said he just needed to rest and heal for a little while before making his comeback.

Verlander joined the Astros in 2017 and has already helped lead the franchise to two World Series appearances. He has a 2.45 ERA in his 74 regular-season starts, winning his second Cy Young Award in 2019.

The star had managed to recover from surgery before the season resumed, but appeared to suffer his latest injury against the Seattle Mariners. However, with the expanded playoffs this year, the Astros may be able to finish lower but still make the postseason.

With large chunks of the season being played in such a short time span, losing a Cy Young winner in Verlander for any period is tough. Verlander is going to miss weeks of action, and the damage to the Astros season could already be done before he returns.

Is This the Last Chance for LeBron James to Earn His Fourth Ring?

LeBron James is no stranger to the NBA playoffs picture, but is time running out for him to earn his fourth ring? He isn’t getting any younger, and this year might be the 36-year-old star’s best chance at getting another championship title.

A Long Career

LeBron James has been performing at an MVP level for many years, and even at 36 years old, he remains a standout player in the league. The Lakers star is approaching 60,000 career minutes, however, which would make him one of only three players to achieve that milestone. He can only keep going for so long.

Exceeding Expectations

In hindsight, it’s not a huge shock to see the Lakers leading the Western Conference after 63 games, but it wasn’t a guarantee. Combining Davis and James has worked perfectly, and the chemistry in the team seems to be great. However, with what is essentially going to be a shootout for Finals places when the NBA resumes, can the Lakers clinch the title?

Time Off

The suspended season may work in LeBron’s favor, as he was one of only 27 players to play over 2,000 minutes during the regular season this year. It took a lot of effort to bring the Lakers to the Western Conference pinnacle, and he just needs to keep it up for a little longer. The rest will also have done Davis some good as he has only played over 85% of his team’s games three times in eight seasons, including this year. Davis might not have another relatively injury-free season before LeBron’s other-worldly talents begin to fade.

All the pieces are in place for the Lakers to take the title this year, and they may not be able to reach this level again. Then again, the Lakers could bring in more free-agent signings next season and be even stronger should they miss out on the championship this year.