Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros have been ravaged by injuries this season and things just got worse, with starting pitcher Justin Verlander headed for Tommy John surgery.

Verlander, who was diagnosed with an elbow injury in July, attempted to rehab his way back from the forearm strain in his pitching arm. Unfortunately, after two months of work, one of MLB’s best pitchers will now go under the knife for TJS.

Justin Verlander says he needs Tommy John surgery, out until 2022

On Saturday, Verlander took to Instagram and revealed he will undergo surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right arm. The injury is expected to sideline him until the 2022 MLB season.

This is a devastating blow for Houston’s rotation, especially given the timing of the announcement. The Astros felt optimistic in recent weeks that Verlander could rejoin the rotation before the postseason, stepping in as the ace for Game 1 of a playoff series.

Instead, there’s a realistic chance he won’t pitch for the Astros again. He signed a two-year, $66 million extension with Houston before the 2019 season. While Verlander spends 2021 rebuilding the strength in his arm and trying to get back on the mound by 2022, Houston will be paying him $33 million.

The Astros’ blockbuster trade to land Verlander at the waiver trade deadline on Aug. 31, 2017, will go down as one of the biggest moves of the decade.

He made the All-Star team twice with the Astros, won the AL Cy Young Award in 2019, joined the 3,000-strikeout club and threw a no-hitter. Verlander also won his lone World Series ring, although the Astros’ cheating scandal has tarnished the championship.

Justin Verlander’s career stats and outlook

Verlander made it clear that this is not the end of his iconic MLB career. Despite his advanced age for a pitcher, 37, one of the best players of his era will attempt a comeback.

He will not be the oldest player in MLB history to undergo Tommy John surgery. Jamie Moyer underwent the procedure as a 47-year-old in 2010 and appeared in 10 games for the Colorado Rockies in 2012.

While the success rate of pitchers coming back from TJS is far greater than it used to be, the rehab process is grueling and players don’t come back at 100% even 18 months removed from the operation.

Verlander is one of the hardest-working players in baseball, with a resume to prove it. An eight-time All-Star, two-time Al Cy Young Award winner, the 2011 AL MVP has proven he can do remarkable things in his career.

If he returns to the mound in 2022, he’ll be entering his age-39 season. Given what he’ll be returning from, MLB teams will recognize the risks of signing him given the chance his dominant stuff will be gone and he’ll be a shell of his former self.

For now, Verlander will press forward with the determination to return from this. If he changes his mind and retires, he’ll walk away as a future first-ballot Hall of Famer with 3,013 strikeouts, a 226-129 record and a 3.33 ERA in his career.

Matt Johnson
NFL, MLB & college football writer for Sportsnaut. Graduated from San Diego State University with BA in Journalism, 2019. Grew up in Sacramento, now based in Indianapolis. Seen on MSN. Previously: eDraft, The Connection, With the First Pick