Justin Verlander will finally make 2024 debut when Astros face Nationals

ByMatt Guillermo KTRK logo
Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Learn more about the Cy-Young award winner who's joined the Astros

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Clear your calendars, Astros fans! JV Day arrives before the weekend.

On Wednesday, Houston manager Joe Espada announced Justin Verlander will start on Friday evening when the team faces the Washington Nationals, marking the ace starting pitcher's 2024 debut.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner began the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday's start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

"Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we're going to get someone who's been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound," Espada, whose ballclub sits last in the American League West, said. "It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction."

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

"We've got to be careful how hard we push him early," Espada said. "I know he's going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season."

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. Houston was seven games under .500 after 19 contests.

SEE MORE: Looking at Justin Verlander's top Astros moments, from his arrival in Houston to his no-hitter

Verlander debuted later in the 2023 season, making his first start with the New York Mets 32 games in due to a teres major injury.

Verlander, who was traded back to Houston last August after signing with the Mets in free agency, earned the 2022 AL Cy Young Award after missing the entire 2021 season and all but one game of 2020 due to Tommy John surgery and recovery.

To start the season, the Astros had a five-person rotation of Valdez, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, J.P. France, and Ronel Blanco, who would have taken the Friday start if Verlander wasn't ready yet. Triple-A call-ups Spencer Arrighetti and Blair Henley were inserted as temporary starters while Valdez and Verlander filled the injured list.

Blanco will start the second of three games at Nationals Park on Saturday after a week's rest.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.