June 25, 2024

Houston Astros manager Joe Espada revealed on Monday that Justin Verlander, the team’s ace, could potentially make his season debut against the Washington Nationals this weekend.

However, Espada did not specify which game of the three-game series Verlander would start, which kicks off on Friday night.

Espada commented on Verlander’s readiness, stating that he feels good, confident, and eager to contribute, emphasizing the importance of Verlander’s presence on the mound for the team.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner began the season on the injured list due to inflammation in his right shoulder.

He participated in two rehabilitation starts, the first with Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7, followed by another start for Double-A Corpus Christi on Saturday.

Before manager Espada announced his plans for him, Justin Verlander spoke to reporters, deferring to the manager on questions regarding his return.

However, he did discuss his health, expressing confidence in his progress. Verlander mentioned that he feels close in terms of pitch count and has bounced back well from his rehabilitation starts.

Despite not being thrilled with the results of those starts, he found them valuable in preparing to come off the injured list. In his most recent outing against Frisco, he allowed seven hits and six runs, with five earned, in four innings, but he saw it as part of the process of getting back into form for the season.

Verlander emphasized the importance of pitching at full speed in game situations to truly prepare for the season, acknowledging that it’s impossible to replicate that intensity in bullpen sessions.

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