In His First Start After Tommy John Surgery, Justin Verlander Looked Like Justin Verlander
I know he doesn't pitch for my team anymore and hasn't for five years (holy shit, where does the time go?), but I hope Justin Verlander never retires. It feels bizarre that innings-eater Justin Verlander continues to pitch in an age where guys win Cy Young's despite pitching 170 innings. I loved watching him toss from day one. With that said, I've been feeling a little bit of skepticism towards him this year, and it's no fault of his own. The man is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and should get a free pass in the Cooperstown, but he's 39 years old, fresh off of Tommy John surgery. He hadn't pitched since Opening Day in the Covid year of 2020. I was skeptical, and then he pumped 96 mph right down Ohtani's face in the first inning, and I was immediately reminded why this man should never be doubted.
Justin Verlander is a unicorn, the closest thing this generation has to Nolan Ryan. It's bizarre that we live in an era where pitchers get pulled after four innings and like 65 pitches, and you have a 39-year-old who has pitched more innings than any active pitcher in MLB, yet he somehow has better stuff than almost anyone I've watched during this opening weekend. And keep in mind, the Astros lost. Mike Trout went deep and Noah Syndergaard looked great in his Angels debut, but who cares? Justin Verlander is one of those guys that I always figured would probably pitch forever, but he's not going to. In a blog I wrote about deGrom last summer, I talked about it that sometimes greatness is for granted. Justin Verlander is one of those guys we've taken for granted. "OMG, he hasn't pitched well in the World Series!!!" Who gives a turkey? Many guys have taken the mound at the major league level, and very few have ever done it better than this guy. Kings stay kings. Just don't do it against the Tigers.