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Verlander 'hip' on adjustments in final tuneup

Astros ace said everything clicked as he preps for Opening Day
@brianmctaggart
March 23, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- Saying he had “goosebumps” walking off the mound in the first inning, Astros ace Justin Verlander was thrilled with the way he pitched against the Marlins on Saturday night after finally discovering an adjustment with his hips that he had been searching for. Verlander, making his final

JUPITER, Fla. -- Saying he had “goosebumps” walking off the mound in the first inning, Astros ace Justin Verlander was thrilled with the way he pitched against the Marlins on Saturday night after finally discovering an adjustment with his hips that he had been searching for.

Verlander, making his final Grapefruit League start, struck out nine in four innings and he pounded the strike zone in the Astros' 5-0 win. He threw 42 of his 54 pitches for strikes before starting the season opener on Thursday against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

“I’m right where I wanted to be tonight,” said Verlander, who has a two-year, $66 million contract extension, according to a source, that will be announced by the club on Sunday. “That was it.”

Verlander, without going into detail, said the adjustment revolves around the way he’s loading his hips. He said things clicked for him watching video from his 2011 season on Friday night, and Saturday was the first time he threw a baseball with that thought process. He said he felt it almost immediately.

“Everything clicked tonight,” he said. “It was a really, really good feeling. I can’t even put it into words. Like searching for myself from a while back. It was something I’ve been kind of grinding on all spring and I kept finding the symptom and not the cause, and I think I found it.”

Verlander, of course, won the American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards in 2011 with the Tigers when he went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA in 33 starts. Verlander is a noted perfectionist and said what he discovered on Saturday could pay big dividends for him.

“I saw some thing I thought I could improve upon now,” he said. “I think I told you guys how kind of off I was as I was trying to make some adjustments. I think that kind of led me down the path of where I’m at now. I was looking for some things. ... I’m pretty good intuitively listening to my body and it doesn’t get much better than it does tonight for me with the feel I had.”

Up next

Right-hander Gerrit Cole will start the Grapefruit League finale for the Astros at 12:05 p.m. CT on Sunday against the Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. It will be Cole’s final outing before getting the ball for the second game of the regular season on Friday against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

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