It’s always been a long shot that Justin Verlander would be able to return in 2021, but Astros general manager James Click confirmed to Sean Salisbury of SportsTalk 790 AM in Houston this morning that Verlander won’t pitch for the team down the stretch (link via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle).
Click tells Salisbury that Verlander recently inquired with his doctors about the possibility and was “strongly advised” against attempting a comeback in 2021, as such a quick turnaround would carry “tremendous risk for the efficacy of the surgery.” Verlander had previously spoken with a hint of optimism about returning as a reliever in the season’s final weeks.
Verlander tweeted back in May that he planned to continue pitching “for a long time” and hasn’t considered retirement, but it’s not yet clear where he’ll continue his career. The 38-year-old (39 in February) is set to hit the open market at season’s end, though the ’Stros will first need to determine whether they want to make a qualifying offer to Verlander.
A one-year offer in the $19MM range would normally be deemed steep for any pitcher coming off a season spent rehabbing Tommy John surgery, but Verlander is, of course, no ordinary pitcher. He’s only pitched six innings since Opening Day 2020, but Verlander is a two-time Cy Young winner, a three-time Cy Young runner-up, an eight-time All-Star and a former American League MVP. His last full season, pitched at 36 years of age in 2019, saw him rack up 223 innings of 2.52 ERA ball en route to the second of those two Cy Young wins.