According to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle, Verlander (elbow) was put on the 60-day disabled list on Saturday. Verlander's move to the 60-day disabled list is purely administrative, since the 38-year-old is projected to miss the whole 2021 season following Tommy John surgery in early October.
The veteran right-hander had been working his way back from July 2017 elbow ligament replacement surgery. In 2018, Verlander went 12-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 29 starts before he got hurt. The 2009 American League MVP is expected to be ready for the start of the 2020 season.
Verlander's absence will open up a spot for one of several starters vying for two openings in the Astros' rotation. Joe Musgrove, Brett Anderson, Colby Lewis and Chris Devenski are among the candidates to fill out the five-man unit. Houston also has the option of calling up a minor league arm to replace Verlander.
Verlander is one of only two active pitchers (the other being Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets) to win the MVP award in both the American and National Leagues (along with Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians). The Detroit Tigers pitcher has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last decade-and-a-half, winning three consecutive AL Cy Young awards from 2011-2013 before going 16-5 with a 2.64 ERA this past season.
Verlander, a 16-year MLB veteran, is recuperating from Tommy John surgery. He underwent elbow surgery in October 2020 and is not anticipated to throw again in the majors until 2022. "First, I need to get my elbow healthy," Verlander explained, "and then I'm not sure what the following steps are." I'm a free agent with no plans. Maybe that will be my next step.
He also hinted that he might want to continue playing after his career is over. "I would love to play into my 40s," Verlander said. "If that doesn't happen, I'll be happy with how my career has gone so far."
Verlander debuted in 2001 and was named the American League MVP that year when he went 33-4 with a 1.93 ERA. In addition to his award-winning season, he also won the AL Cy Young Award that year as well. Verlander continued to dominate through the remainder of his early 2000's tenure with the Detroit Tigers, earning five more All-Star selections and two more Cy Young Awards along the way.
In 2014, Verlander had another great season (17-5, 2.91 ERA), but an injury plagued 2015 saw him post a 6-14 record while pitching only 277 innings. A back injury cut short his 2016 campaign after only 13 games were finished. In 2017, Verlander returned from his injury rehab and pitched effectively down the stretch before finishing with 230 innings and 17 wins.
Verlander, who underwent surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Sept. 30, confessed that pitching in 2021 is a long shot, given the significant danger of reinjury and the Astros' need to go far into the playoffs. The 29-year-old right-hander said he hasn't decided how he'll handle his salary if he can't pitch next season.
Verlander is one of baseball's best pitchers over the past decade. He won the American League MVP Award in 2011 when he had a 20-4 record with a 2.21 ERA in 32 starts for the Detroit Tigers.
After the 2021 season, Verlander will be a free agent, and it will be intriguing to watch how the market treats him. On the one hand, he'll be 39 years old on Opening Day 2022, fresh off significant elbow surgery and having not thrown regularly since the 2019 season. On the other hand, he's still one of the best pitchers in baseball and has a proven track record of success.
In 2012, when Max Scherzer was winning the AL Cy Young Award, Justin Verlander took home his third straight AL MVP award. In 2013, when Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young Award, Verlander took home his fourth straight AL MVP award. In 2014, when Chris Sale was winning the AL Cy Young Award, Verlander finished second to Seattle's Felix Hernandez in the AL MVP race. In 2015, when Jacob deGrom was winning the NL Cy Young Award, Verlander finished fifth in the NL MVP race. In 2016, when Clayton Kershaw was winning the NL Cy Young Award, Verlander finished sixth in the NL MVP race.
Verlander's consistency as an MVP candidate is impressive enough on its own, but consider this: From 2011-2020, only Tim Lincecum (2012) and Madison Bumgarner (2019) have missed the MVP vote. Between them, those two have more than any other pitcher.