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Verlander Set for Tommy John Surgery

Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

2020 is a year that can’t end soon enough, and Justin Verlander is having a rough one. His year went from bad to worse when he announced on Saturday that he’d undergo Tommy John surgery.

Going back to spring training, Verlander suffered a groin injury in late February that required surgery. That injury didn’t cause him to miss any time in the regular season due to the COVID-19 shutdown, and it looked like Verlander dodged a bullet when he showed up with a clean bill of health at Summer Camp.

Unfortunately, Verlander lasted only one start, suffering a strained right forearm in his first start. He’s attempted to rehab the injury and threw a 75-pitch simulated game on Wednesday, but the aftermath of that outing apparently wasn’t good.


With the usual Tommy John surgery recovery timetable of 12-18 months, it seems unlikely that Verlander will pitch for the Astros in 2021, the final year of his contract. From there, it’s anyone’s guess as to Verlander’s baseball future, as he will be 39 by the time the 2022 season rolls around.

Returning from such a major injury at Verlander’s age isn’t unprecedented, but multiple injuries in one year certainly isn’t a great sign. That said, as much success as Verlander has had during his 16-year career, we certainly shouldn’t count the two-time Cy Young winner and 2011 AL MVP out.

Keller Tosses Six No-Hit Innings

Mitch Keller hasn’t had the year he would have liked, missing about six weeks with an oblique injury. He’s trying to end the year with some momentum to build on for 2021, and he went in the right direction on Saturday.

The former top prospect fooled the Cardinals with six hitless innings, only allowing two walks and fanning six batters. The Pirates understandably pulled their 24-year-old right-hander at 84 pitches after he threw only 65 pitches in his first start off the injured list, and the Pirates bullpen proceeded to blow a three-run lead.

For Keller, it was only his fourth start of the season and best outing since his first start on July 26, when he allowed one run on two hits against the same Cardinals team. In between, he’s struggled in two starts and had major issues with walks, so the control we saw in this start was a major step in the right direction.

Inconsistency was also an issue for Keller in his MLB debut last season, but he did finish with a superb 12.2 K/9 and 4.06 K/BB ratio despite his 7.13 ERA and 1.83 WHIP in 48 innings over 11 starts. The command and dominance hasn’t been on par this year, but his overall velocity has bounced back to last year’s form since coming off the injured list.

Keller is scheduled to wrap up his 2020 campaign on Friday at Cleveland, and it will be interesting to see if he can keep the effectiveness going. Regardless, Keller is a key part of Pittsburgh’s rebuild.

Going Twice…

Notes: The list below is two-start pitchers for the week beginning September 21. Probable pitchers are as of Saturday, September 19, and subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Shane Bieber: CHW, PIT

Gerrit Cole: @TOR, MIA

Decent Plays

Brady Singer: STL, DET

Dylan Bundy: TEX, @LAD

Marco Gonzales: HOU, @OAK

Lance McCullers: @SEA, @TEX

Framber Valdez: @SEA, @TEX

Dane Dunning: @CLE, CHC

Aaron Civale: CHW, PIT

Jordan Montgomery: @TOR, MIA

Frankie Montas: @LAD, SEA

Keegan Akin: @BOS, @TOR

Kyle Gibson: @LAA, HOU

Reynaldo Lopez: @CLE, CHC

Josh Fleming: @NYM, PHI

At Your Own Risk

Tarik Skubal: @MIN, @KC

Tanner Roark: NYY, BAL

Jordan Lyles: @ARI, HOU

Chase Anderson: NYY, BAL

Nick Pivetta: BAL, @ATL

Carlos Hernandez: STL, DET

National League

Strong Plays

Jacob deGrom: TB, @WAS

Zack Wheeler: @WAS, @TB

Aaron Nola: @WAS, @TB

Brandon Woodruff: @CIN, @STL

German Marquez: @SF, @ARI

Decent Plays

Mike Clevinger: LAA, @SF

Dustin May: OAK, LAA

Adam Wainwright: @KC, MIL

Kyle Freeland: @SF, @ARI

Seth Lugo: TB, @WAS

Johnny Cueto: COL, SD

Jon Lester: @PIT, @CHW

Drew Smyly: COL, SD

Brett Anderson: @CIN, @STL

At Your Own Risk

Jose Urena: @ATL, @NYY

Trevor Rogers: @ATL, @NYY

J.T. Brubaker: CHC, @CLE

Anibal Sanchez: PHI, NYM

Austin Voth: PHI, NYM

Cole Hamels: MIA, BOS

Josh Tomlin: MIA, BOS

American League Quick Hits: Ron Gardenhire retired as the Tigers manager due to health issues. He’s been a manager for 16 years in the majors between Minnesota and Detroit, and has exactly 1,200 regular season wins… Nelson Cruz was scratched by the Twins with right knee soreness… Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was held out of Saturday’s lineup due to dizziness… Alex Verdugo missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury… Justin Upton underwent tests after getting hit by a pitch in the helmet on Friday… Daniel Mengden (COVID-19) has been cleared to be activated. He will likely pitch in relief… Willie Calhoun will play in the Rangers instructional league this fall. His season was disrupted due to injury… Shin-Soo Choo (wrist) might not return this season… Jorge Soler (oblique) hopes to return during the final week, but there’s still no clear timetable… Roberto Osuna (elbow) has started throwing. He opted to rehab his injury rather than undergo Tommy John surgery, and the Astros are hopeful he will be ready for 2021… Jose Iglesias left Saturday’s game after taking a pitch to his left hand… Chris Davis (knee) won’t return this season. He wraps up another horrible year, hitting just .115/.164/.173 in 55 plate appearances… Christian Arroyo left Saturday’s game with back spasms.

Jesus Luzardo had one of his best starts of the year, throwing six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. He allowed only five hits against the Giants… Jake Lamb hit his second home run in five games since joining the A’s… Tim Anderson launched a pair of home runs, giving him 10 for the season. He’s also hitting .366 as he goes for a second consecutive Batting Title… Jose Abreu launched his 18th home run… Nomar Mazara finally got on the board with his first home run, in a season he’d probably like to forget… J.A. Happ has likely earned himself a spot in the Yankees playoff rotation with another great outing, throwing eight scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and only four hits allowed at Boston. He’s allowed two or fewer runs in five of his last six starts… Randy Arozarena hit his fifth home run in 16 games for Tampa Bay… Josh Donaldson didn’t start on Saturday, but still hit his sixth home run of the year… Leody Taveras hasn’t done enough to be handed a starting job next season, but he did his best on Saturday. The Rangers center fielder went 2-for-4 with a home run and a stolen base… Yoshihisa Hirano converted his third save for Seattle. The Mariners have won all 10 games he’s appeared in this season.

National League Quick Hits: Jacob deGrom (hamstring) is in line to start on Monday after throwing a side session… Mike Clevinger was scratched from his start with biceps tightness, though the issue isn’t considered serious… Eric Hosmer came off the injured list after fracturing his finger last week… Walker Buehler (blister) threw a 90 pitch simulated game, and will return to the mound for the Dodgers on Thursday… Dellin Betances (Iat) threw a simulated game and could return this week… Rowan Wick was placed on the 10-day IL, retroactive to September 17, with a left oblique strain… Jose Quintana (lat) threw a sim game on Saturday and could be activated by the Cubs this week… Yadier Molina left Saturday’s game with a bruised wrist… Wade Davis was designated for assignment by the Rockies. He floundered after signing a three-year, $52 million contract with the team in 2018… The Giants placed Alex Dickerson on the paternity leave list… The Rockies promoted former Marlins closer A.J. Ramos. He last pitched in the majors two year and has since fought injuries… Reds reliever Tyler Thornburn underwent Tommy John surgery… Nats reliever Sam Freeman also had Tommy John surgery… The Phils will recall prospect Adonis Medina to start on Sunday.

Kevin Gausman returned from a minor elbow issue to allow just one run on one hit in six innings at Oakland. He fanned six batters and lowered his ERA to 3.76 in his rebound season… Vince Velasauez had strong outing vs. the Blue Jays, allowing one run on two hits in six innings with six strikeouts. The only damage was a Travis Shaw home run… Miguel Rojas had a great showing for Miami, going 3-for-5 with his fourth home run, one RBI, and two runs scored… Patrick Corbin’s ERA ballooned to 4.76 with a poor start against Maimi, allowing seven runs on 14 hits in six innings. He did have seven strikeouts, if that’s any consolation… Ke’Bryan Hayes continues to make MLB look easy, going 2-for-4 with his third home runs and eighth RBI. He’s now hitting .310/.385/.603 for Pittsburgh… Adam Duvall now has 11 home runs in September after hitting another on Saturday. He’s been a huge power pickup for fantasy managers this year, and his draft day value going into 2021 will be very interesting… Robinson Cano had another big offensive day, going 3-for-4 with a home run and eight RBI. He’s now hitting .331/.373/.570 for the season… David Peterson had one of the best starts of his rookie season, allowing one run on three hits in six innings with 10 strikeouts against the Braves. He has five wins in 10 outings… The streaky Kole Calhoun continues to rise, hitting his sixth home run over the last five games. He quietly has 15 home runs and an .895 OPS for Arizona… Corbin Burnes continues to earn Cy Young consideration with his breakout 2021 season. The Brewers flamethrower went to 4-0 after throwing six scoreless innings vs. Kansas City. He allowed only four hits with nine strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 1.77… Chris Taylor had the difficult half of the cycle, hitting a triple and home run at Colorado. He’s quietly hit .283/.380/.494 this season for LA… Clayton Kershaw had another fabulous start, dominating the Rockies at Coors Field. He allowed one run on four hits in seven innings with six strikeouts as he ramps up for the playoffs.