Two games, two smooth starts for Verlander

March 23rd, 2022

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Suddenly, Justin Verlander has only two more starts remaining in Spring Training, which is a little bit daunting considering he’s thrown in only two Grapefruit League games since he injured his elbow on July 24, 2020. Tommy John surgery followed a few months later, and Verlander spent 2021 rehabbing.

His return to the mound this spring has gone as smoothly as he could have hoped, though he wishes he had more time. Verlander threw 51 pitches (31 strikes) in 2 2/3 innings in Wednesday’s 10-3 win over the Cardinals, allowing three hits and one walk with two strikeouts. His fastball sat at 94-95 mph.

“I was trying to get consistency,” Verlander said. “I felt good physically, so that’s the important thing. And then sharpening my pitches is the next thing. I threw some good ones, but consistency to me wasn’t where I would like it. Just getting innings under my belt, I think that’s the hard thing in Spring Training, a shortened spring anyway. Coming off two years not pitching, it would be nice to have a little more runway to go out there and get some innings under your belt and get the feel of it.”

Verlander might only be stretched out to 80 pitches or so by the time the club leaves Florida in about 10 days. He would typically get close to 100 and perhaps back down from there in his final spring start.

“In an ideal world, I’d go right back out there and be where I was in midseason form in ’19,” he said. “I don’t think that’s very realistic. I don’t think that’s fair. I think that’s what I’m striving for. I know where I should be, and I’m not there yet. I think the first thing for me is to be focused on my health, and that seems to be there. If I have health, I can work on everything else, and hopefully get it where I want it for Opening Day.”