The final act of Justin Verlander’s marvelous career has arguably been his best in recent seasons, having apparently settled into his waning phase after a brilliant spike in Detroit, the veteran right-hander appeared born again with the Houston Astros, regaining his lost speed and recovering as a bona fide ace As recently as last summer, it looked like Verlander could well reach his forties and eventually consolidate himself in the years to come as a Hall of Famer in the first ballot.
Suddenly, however, his future is in danger Verlander, who made a start in 2020 before landing on the injured list with what has been described as forearm strain, announced Saturday that he needed surgery from Tommy John to repair the damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow
To his credit, Verlander, who is almost guaranteed to miss the entire 2021 season, was unfazed, saying he “won’t let this slow my aspirations for my career”
Despite his determination, the task ahead is daunting Verlander turned 37 in February The story of pitchers his age or older having had their UCL surgically repaired is extremely bleak As the All-Star at eight times may be able to return to the majors at 39, chances are that if he does return, Verlander will never be the same
In the five decades since Dr Frank Jobe revitalized the career of veteran left-hander Tommy John with the experimental ligament reconstruction procedure, nearly 2,000 professional ball players have done so, according to analyst Jon Roegele , the vast majority being pitchers Of this group of nearly 2000, only 10 were operated after turning 37, or less than 1% This is a tiny fraction that suggests the improbability of returning to good health and still being effective after undergoing such an important intervention at such an advanced age
On the one hand, all the pitchers who had Tommy John surgery at the age of 37 or older – all of whom were established big leaguers – eventually returned to the majors, half of them them returning to the mound within usual limits Payback time of 12-14 months or faster Most of these pitchers, however, were relievers at this point in their careers While several of them have had some success in offering relief after their return, neither of the two starting pitchers who had Tommy John surgery at the age of 37 or older was effective again. / p>
Bronson Arroyo, the colorful junkballer whose recovery lasted nearly three years from multiple setbacks, was so ineffective, at age 40, that he only lasted half a season. a 735 ERA in 14 starts for the Cincinnati Reds in 2017 before being released Arroyo no longer played in the big leagues Jamie Moyer, the left-hander known for his breathtaking longevity, had a 570 ERA out of 10 starts with the Rockies Colorado in 2012 after his surgery and also got an early summer release. He hasn’t kicked off the big guys yet, either
None of those pitchers, of course, was Verlander.He was one of the most dominant starters in the game as recently as 2019, when he wrote a 258 ERA (179 ERA) out of 34 starts for the Astros while leading the majors in WHIP (080) and innings pitched (223) and setting a career-high in strikeouts (300) en route to his second Cy Young award in the history of the game, few starters have never been as exceptional as Verlander in his early to mid-30s: only 10 pitchers racked up more WARs from 33 to 36 than Verlander, who was traded to Houston in late 2017 If Verlander were to return to the big leagues in 2022 and still be close to the dominance he was before the operation, that would be unprecedented Frankly, it would be unprecedented if he was even good enough to drag out a second season as a starter, post-op. By committing to this return, Verlander is attempting, in a sense, the impossible
“I will approach this rehab the only way I know how to attack and not look back,” said Verlander “I am confident that with a proper rehabilitation program and my unwavering commitment, this surgery will ultimately lengthen my career rather than shorten it”
Someone will surely give him a chance to start in 2022, barring a setback in his recovery His current contract with the Astros expires after next season, but finding a job in two springs will be the easy part for Verlander , whose pedigree and experience will attract a multitude of contenders
The hardest part, if history is any indication, will be to keep this job While Verlander has always been exceptional throughout his 16-year career, it has never been such an existential imperative
Jonah Birenbaum is theScore’s senior MLB writer He cooks a good ham You can find him on Twitter @birenball
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros, Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction, Tommy John, Pitcher
World News – CA – Justin Verlander, facing Tommy John’s surgery at 37, will try to do the impossible – en – en.