RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Justin Verlander didn’t expect to be ready for the Houston Astros’ season opener.
A persistent groin issue finally required surgery in the off-season, but, with COVID-19 pushing the start of the season all the way to July, the former Goochland High star is rested and ready to go for the defending American League champions.
“At the end of last season, one of my goals was to get my mechanics back to what they had been and to get my velocity up,” Verlander said. “So I looked at this as an opportunity to get better.”
A better Verlander is a scary thought: He led the major leagues with 21 wins, 34 starts and 223 innings last year, bringing home his second career Cy Young Award.
Still, the build-up is different than a normal spring training.
“It does feel a little bit rushed,” Verlander said after pitching against teammates in a simulated game on Tuesday. “In an ideal world, we’d like to schedule out the time frames to have starts and maybe have an extra day of rest here or there in a ramp-up process to build up to the season.
“That’s asking a lot while you’re trying to build up your pitch count, but it isn’t ideal for anyone.”
Verlander is expected to take the ball for the Astros on July 24 against the Seattle Mariners.