Verlander makes stellar comeback with Astros

Another Cy for Verlander?

Justin Verlander

A torn ulnar collateral ligament is a diagnosis that no pitcher wants to hear. But if ever there was proof that one can still thrive afterward no matter their age, it is the case of Justin Verlander.

Indeed, nearly two years after having Tommy John surgery to repair the dreaded injury, the Houston Astros’ two-time Cy Young winner is back and arguably better than ever — and that is saying something given his Hall of Fame-caliber career.

As of late July, the 39-year-old righthander was the majors’ first 13-game winner, sporting a 13-3 won-lost record with a 1.86 ERA, a WHiP of 0.88 and 117 strikeouts and only 21 walks in 116 innings. Perhaps more importantly, his velocity is as good or better than it’s ever been.

That was seen in a recent game against the Seattle Mariners, when his fastball averaged 96.3 mph and topped out at 99 mph in his last inning of work, the seventh, in a 3-1 Houston victory. For the year, his fastball is averaging 94.9 mph, slightly above his career average of 94.4.

Certainly, his stellar performance this season makes the Astros’ decision to bring him back on a one-year, $25 million contract in the offseason — before he’d even thrown a post-Tommy John pitch — look like a smart one. And with the Astros entertaining World Series hopes, it’ll fall to Verlander to be the anchor of what could be a championship rotation.

Verlander’s Astros can be seen in action Monday, Aug. 15, when they pay a visit to the Chicago White Sox in a game airing on FS1.

Full name: Justin Brooks Verlander

Birth date: Feb. 20, 1983

Birthplace: Manakin Sabot, Va.

Height/weight: 6 feet, 5 inches/225 pounds

Teams: Detroit Tigers (2005-17); Houston Astros (2017- present)

Position: Starting pitcher

Bats/throws: Right/right

No.: 35

Honors and Achievements: World Series champion (2017); All-Star (2007, 2009-2013, 2018-19, 2022); AL MVP (2011); AL Cy Young Award (2011, 2019); AL Rookie of the Year (2006); Pitching Triple Crown (2011)

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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