HOUSTON -- Astros pitcher Justin Verlander underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday, the team announced on Thursday. The recovery time is 12 to 14 months, meaning Verlander won’t pitch again until the 2022 season.
Verlander, who won the 2019 AL Cy Young Award, announced last month that he would have to undergo surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He started on Opening Day on July 24 and pitched well, but he was diagnosed with a right forearm strain and was shut down. He rehabbed throughout the summer with the goal of returning and contributing in October but injured the elbow throwing a simulated game on Sept. 17.
“I was hopeful that I would be able to return to competition in 2020,” Verlander wrote on Instagram last month, “however, during my simulated game unfortunately the injury worsened. Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed, but I will not let this slow down my aspirations for my career. I will approach this rehab the only way I know, attack and don’t look back.”
“I’m confident that with a proper rehabilitation program and my unwavering commitment that this surgery will ultimately lengthen my career as opposed to shorten it,” Verlander continued. “I can’t thank my teammates, coaches, the front office and my fans enough for the support they have given me so far in this process. I’m eager to get through this recovery and back on the field to continue to do what I love.”
Verlander will attempt to become the 10th known pitcher to come back from Tommy John surgery after undergoing the procedure at 37 years of age or older. But there’s a chance he’s thrown his final pitch for the Astros, considering he’ll miss all of next season and will be a free agent heading into ’22. Verlander signed a two-year, $66 million contract extension with the Astros prior to the ’19 season that was set to keep him in Houston through ’21.
Verlander enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2019 on the way to his second career Cy Young Award, making 34 starts and going 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA, 300 strikeouts and a 0.80 WHIP in 223 innings. He threw his third career no-hitter and reached 3,000 career strikeouts, while whiffing 300 in a season for the first time.