Justin Verlander is progressing back towards the pitcher he once was, before Tommy John surgery derailed him.
This is good news for the Houston Astros, who have been without their ace for almost two full seasons.
One start into the COVID-shortened 2020 regular season, Verlander injured his elbow, underwent Tommy John surgery, and hasn’t seen any action since, but he’s trending in the right direction.
The Astros are still trying to determine who their Opening Day starter will be.
When he was asked if Justin Verlander was his Opening Day starter, manager Dusty Baker said “probably not.” Right now, Framber Valdez lines up for Opening Day, but nothing is set.
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) March 29, 2022
Valdez would be a good choice to start the season, but it would be that much sweeter if Baker chose Verlander to start after everything he’s been through with his elbow troubles.
It would be a great way to not only welcome fans back after the lockout put everything on hold, but also to kick off Verlander’s redemption season and get him back in the action for the first time in almost three years.
But at the moment, Baker does not expect Verlander to be his Opening Day starter, and Valdez remains the most likely option.
Either way, having Verlander back is a huge boost for the Astros and their starting rotation, especially after losing Zack Greinke to the Kansas City Royals in free agency.
Ultimately, there’s still time for Baker to pick his Opening Day starter.
As he put it, nothing is set in stone at the moment, but it would be nice to see Verlander kick off his return with an Opening Day start.