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JV throws off flat ground for 1st time since IL

@brianmctaggart
August 18, 2020

HOUSTON -- Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, who suffered a right forearm strain in his first start of the season, threw off flat ground Monday for the first time since he was placed on the injured list, manager Dusty Baker said. Verlander is aiming to return to the mound this season.

HOUSTON -- Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, who suffered a right forearm strain in his first start of the season, threw off flat ground Monday for the first time since he was placed on the injured list, manager Dusty Baker said. Verlander is aiming to return to the mound this season.

“It went very well,” Astros pitching coach Brent Strom said. “Not sure as to the intensity. I’m assuming it was just the beginning of a road to get him back, but all reports were good in terms of how he felt after it.”

Verlander threw six strong innings July 24 against the Mariners to begin the season, but he suffered a forearm strain that shut him down for two weeks. On July 26, Verlander rebuffed a newspaper report that said he was going to be out for the year by tweeting he was going to try to return after a period of rest.

Houston’s rotation has picked up the slack of late, posting a 1.86 ERA in 11 starts since Lance McCullers Jr. allowed eight runs on Aug. 5. Rookie Brandon Bielak, who beat the Rockies on Monday, has a 1.69 ERA in three starts, while Framber Valdez (1.90 ERA), rookie Cristian Javier (2.91) and Zack Greinke (2.53 entering Tuesday) have thrown the ball well.

At age 36 in 2019, Verlander had one of the best seasons of his career, perhaps behind only the '11 season, in which he won his first AL Cy Young Award as well as the AL Most Valuable Player Award. In 34 starts in 2019, he went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA, 300 strikeouts and a 0.80 WHIP in 223 innings. His WHIP was the second lowest in the past 100 years.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.