Astros Anticipate Boost from Verlander's Awaited Return

Verlander steps up as Astros seek season turn around

by Nouman Rasool
Astros Anticipate Boost from Verlander's Awaited Return
© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Houston Astros a team that, so far this season, has been roughed up will most definitely get a boost with the return of three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander. Scheduled to debut against the Washington Nationals on Friday, Verlander is finally back on the mound from his early season shoulder inflammation.

Preparing to resume play in their series against the Yankees, the Astros find themselves in the AL West basement and it cannot be considered a temporary residence with their 6-14 record. Only the Chicago White Sox have been worse in the American League to this point.

Add to that, a team that has just not "gotten it done" with the return of its ace pitcher, and it's a source of hope. Verlander, a veteran and future Hall of Famer, has been sorely missed as the Astros struggle to fill the hole left by injured starters, including Framber Valdez.

Verlander's Crucial Come

Tonight's game is at a crossroads for the 41-year-old pitcher, as he has toiled in three minor-league rehab starts, going 0-2 with 13 runs (11 earned) allowed over seven innings. That said, tonight's matchup would appear to be a very favorable scenario, as the Nats sit last in the National League in both runs and hits.

It's a rematch of the World Series, so it really can't be predicted that a workhorse performance is needed from Verlander in this game, but four or perhaps five good innings could keep the Astros in touch. His positive contribution is likely to be seen as a gain for manager Joe Espada compared to recent performances from the team's rotation.

His return to the game reinstates glimmers of hope for the tattered stability of the Astros' pitching staff and the ability of the man himself to sustain peak performance in the twilight of his illustrious career. Tonight's game isn't just about a singular pitcher making his return to play, but instead it's about possibly reigniting a team and, who knows, perhaps redirecting the course of their season.

For Astros fans or baseball fans, everyone is just waiting to see if Verlander can do it one more time, rise to the occasion, and be the savior his team needs.