Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander is looking like his old, dominant self.
He threw a bullpen session on Tuesday, and his velocity was extremely encouraging.
“In other news, Justin Verlander hit 96.5 MPH on his final pitch today. He threw 35 pitches in his session,” writer Michael Schwaab tweeted today.
In other news, Justin Verlander hit 96.5 MPH on his final pitch today. He threw 35 pitches in his session.
— Michael Schwab (@michaelschwab13) March 14, 2022
Considering that Verlander’s average fastball velocity was 94.6 mph in his last full season, in 2019, it’s a very good sign to see him pumping high-90s gas already.
If you were wondering if he was any good in his last full campaign, he won the AL Cy Young award and put a 2.58 ERA in 223 frames, striking out 12.11 hitter per nine innings.
After pitching just six innings in 2020, Verlander reported elbow issues and ended up having the Tommy John surgery in the fall of that year.
There was some chatter that he could return last year, but it didn’t make sense given the usual timeline for pitchers recovering from elbow reconstruction surgery.
Verlander Looks Ready To Have A Huge Comeback Season
Skipping 2021 was essential for Verlander’s recovery, as he could complete every step with no rush.
Now, he looks game-ready, and eager to lift his team to the World Series once again.
Before the lockout, Verlander signed a one-year, $25 million pact with the Astros that included a $25 million player option for 2023, conditioned on him pitching 130 or more innings this season.
So far, he looks primed to blow past that number, but the Astros will probably take things slow with him.
It’s unlikely we see him going seven or eight innings in April and May, as the team makes sure not to overtax his right arm.
After all, he is 39, and Houston wants him healthy for the playoffs.
But the franchise has to be feeling pretty good considering where he is at.