LIVE: Verlander making season debut vs. Tigers FREE on MLB.TV

May 4th, 2023

is finally back -- against the team he spent his first 13 seasons with, no less -- and you can stream this highly anticipated matchup FREE on MLB.TV.

The final game of the Mets’ three-game series in Detroit is MLB.TV’s Free Game of the Day and is streaming right now. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez started for the Tigers.

Verlander is the second former Tigers star pitcher to return to Detroit in as many days, after struggled in an 8-1 loss on Wednesday night. Verlander and Scherzer were teammates with the Tigers from 2010-14, of course, with each winning a Cy Young Award during that span (Verlander in 2011, Scherzer in '13).

But with all due respect to Scherzer, who was merely coming off a 10-game suspension for foreign substance use on the mound against the Dodgers in April, Verlander’s return is one fans have been yearning for the most, as he had yet to pitch this season. Expectations were high when the reigning unanimous AL Cy Young Award winner signed a two-year deal with New York this offseason, but those expectations were delayed when the Mets announced on Opening Day that Verlander would go on the injured list due to a teres major muscle strain in his right side.

Initially, Verlander told that had this been late in the season or the postseason, he likely would have pitched through the soreness. Later, he called a late April return a worst-case scenario. But instead, Verlander will make his Mets debut in May against the team he began his legendary career with. This will be his third career start in Detroit as a visitor, as he went 2-0 with 14.0 IP and a 1.93 ERA in two such starts with the Astros.

Verlander, drafted second overall by Detroit in 2004, pitched for the Tigers from 2005-17 before joining Houston in 2018. Over his 13 seasons with Detroit, Verlander won a Rookie of the Year Award, made six All-Star teams, and won the first of his three Cy Youngs. He remains the last AL player to win Cy Young and MVP in the same season, doing so in 2011.

Yet even with all of that being said, Verlander’s most impressive career achievement might have come last year with the World Series champion Astros, when he won his third career Cy Young after only making one combined start from 2020-21. Defying Father Time, Verlander led MLB in ERA (1.75) and WHIP (0.83), the former of which was the lowest by any qualified AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez’s legendary 2000 season (1.74).

These feats were made even more impressive by not only his age -- though the fact that he became the fifth pitcher (sixth instance) to win a Cy Young at age 39 or older is nothing to scoff at -- but also his health status. Verlander pitched only six innings in 2020, then proceeded to miss the entire 2021 season following Tommy John surgery on Sept. 30, 2020. He became the first pitcher to win a Cy Young Award after not pitching at all in the previous season.

This all leads to one key question: Is he back to that form yet? If his most recent rehab start is any indication, he looks to be well on the road to recovery. Verlander threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings last Friday for Double-A Binghamton, allowing only two hits and having 52 of his 69 pitches go for strikes.