Justin Verlander is reportedly set to miss the rest of the 2020 season with an arm injury, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. If that's true, the Houston Astros' chances at a World Series title have all but ended.
If Verlander is gone, Houston will be without its two aces from 2019. Gerrit Cole left for the New York Yankees in the offseason and now Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, is out as well.
In 2019, Verlander was 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP and 300 strikeouts in 223 innings pitched. Cole was 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP and 326 strikeouts in 212.1 innings. Cole posted an fWAR of 7.3 and Verlander's was 6.3, now Houston has to find a way to replace a combined 13.6 fWAR. That's far too much for any team to overcome.
It's also worth noting, Wade Miley is gone as well. Miley was solid last season, going 14-6, with with a 3.98 ERA in 167.1 innings over 33 starts. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds in the offseason.
The Astros are likely to have a prolific offense, but now they could be asking a lot out of a rotation that is severely depleted. Zack Greinke will lead the charge, but Lance McCullers Jr. is coming off Tommy John surgery and Jose Urquidy hasn't fully rejoined the team after being absent during summer camp. Josh James and Framber Valdez are currently in the rotation but are both unproven.
If the Astros reach the postseason, they could be in trouble unless they can pull off a trade for a frontline starter.
The Astros had an enormous collective chip on their shoulder entering this season. Following the messy sign-stealing scandal they dealt with over the offseason, they were extra motivated to make a run to a World Series title to stick it to the rest of baseball. That redemption arc is far less likely with Verlander out.
UPDATE: Dusty Baker says Verlander is done for a few weeks, but could will be re-evaluated: