HOUSTON – Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will undergo Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery and is expected to be out through the 2021 season, ending his bid to make a late return for a playoff push.
The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner announced the news Saturday on his Instagram account in a 1½-minute video.
"In my simulated game a couple days ago, I felt something in my elbow, and after looking at my MRI and conversing with some of the best doctors in the world, we've determined that Tommy John surgery is my best option," Verlander said.
The 37-year-old righthander threw to hitters on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in the team's opener on July 24. He threw 50 pitches in the bullpen before throwing about 25 pitches to hitters in two simulated innings.
"I tried as hard as I could to come back and play this season," Verlander said. "Unfortunately, my body just didn't cooperate."
Houston manager Dusty Baker said he was hopeful Verlander would return, but he was also fearful of how things were looking.
"I talked to him this morning," Baker said. "He's not crazy about the outcome, but it is what it is. He has to get it taken care of. He's pitched for years. He's been a warrior and a leader. Hopefully, this will prolong his career, and he can be back to pitching. I always told him he's a medical marvel, and he's a great physical specimen."
Astros General Manager James Click said he and Verlander spoke earlier this week about trying to plan the rest of the season if the throwing session on Wednesday had gone well.
Verlander is under contract with the Astros through 2021. Click said it was too early to discuss 2022, with the focus being on Verlander getting through the surgery and rehab process.
Verlander has been on the injured list because of a right forearm strain. He had groin surgery in mid-March and would have missed the opener if the big-league season hadn't been delayed because of the pandemic.
When the season began in late July, he beat the Mariners on Opening Day, holding them to two runs on three hits in six innings and striking out seven.
Verlander went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA last year, striking out a career-high 300 and throwing his third no-hitter overall. He pitched 223 innings, most in the majors, and then made six more starts in the postseason as the Astros reached the World Series.