TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 01: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros reacts after throwing a no … [+] hitter at the end of the ninth inning during a MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 01, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Right-hander Justin Verlander appears to be a pitcher on a mission. 
Verlander wants to prove that he is still an outstanding, top of the rotation starting pitcher.
MLB.com is reporting Verlander will return to Houston on a one-year, $25M contract to return to the Houston Astros. The contract reportedly includes a player option for 2023.
Verlander entered free agency after spending parts of the past four years with the Astros. The Astros gave Verlander a qualifying offer, which carried a value of $18.4M. After rejecting the offer, Verlander is set to sign his new deal.
At the age of 38, Verlander is coming off October 2020 Tommy John surgery, but he is bound and determined to pitch again. As he told Houston reporters last season, “I’m playing until the wheels fall off.” Believe it.
Verlander has been an All Star eight times, with his most recent selection being 2019.
Verlander pitched parts of 13 seasons for the Tigers. On August 31, 2017, he was traded to the Houston Astros for pitcher Franklin Perez, outfielder Daz Cameron, and catcher Jake Rogers.
Verlander was terrific for Houston in 2018 and 2019 as a dominant, “top of the charts” type starter.
Verlander was named the American League Most Valuable Player in 2011 when he had a record of 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 34 starts for the Detroit Tigers, the team that drafted him out of Old Dominion University in the 1st round of the 2004 draft.
Verlander won the Cy Young Award in the American League in both 2011 with Detroit and 2019 with Houston.
Verlander threw his third career no-hitter in 2019 while pitching for the Astros.
Among active pitchers, Verlander has the highest WAR (Wins Against Replacement) at 72.2. 
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 14: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros celebrates after striking out … [+] Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees in the eighth inning during game two of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 14, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Verlander entered free agency after spending parts of the past four years with the Houston Astros.
Verlander recently held a “showcase” for scouts at the Cressey Performance Center in Florida. The Center is run by Eric Cressey, the New York Yankees director of health and performance. Cressey’s connection to the Yankees may or may not have been of significance, but clearly, the Yankees were believed to have had an interest in Verlander. If he does, indeed sign back with Houston, he is no longer an option to bolster the Yankees thin rotation.
It is believed that as many as 20 MLB teams may have watched Verlander pitch at his showcase. He threw 94 to 97 miles per hour in about 25 pitches, which is very attractive to most big league clubs.
One of Verlander’s greatest strengths has always been his ability to increase velocity as the game moved along. While most pitchers may tire and see their fastball velocity decline, Verlander’s history is just the opposite, which allows him to pitch deeply into games and help preserve the bullpen. 
In today’s brand of baseball, starting pitchers are often removed before they face the opposition for the third time through the lineup. That is rarely the case with Justin Verlander.
It is interesting to note that Brent Strom, Verlander’s pitching coach with Houston, has left the Astros and has become the pitching coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He will be listening to a new voice, but that should not be of huge consequence to one of the most efficient and effective craftsmen on the mound.
Verlander is so well schooled in the art of pitching, he may well serve as a quasi pitching coach as he returns to the Astros. Younger Houston pitchers can learn from Verlander just by watching him work.
It is very obvious why so many teams showed up at Verlander’s showcase and why the Astros wanted Verlander to return to their team.
Verlander had great success pitching for Houston prior to his Tommy John surgery.
He fashioned a record of 43-15 in his four years with the team. He pitched to a sparkling 2.45 ERA and a minuscule 0.834 WHIP in 477 innings pitched. He struck out 640, while walking 85 in his 74 starts. 
Verlander has a career record of 183-129 in 454 starts.
The Astros likely sweetened their offer to Verlander to maintain a rotation that includes Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy and if needed, Cristian Javier. 
Signing Verlander will give the Astros rotation the type of depth and quality that may be unequaled in the American League. As they enter a new season, re-signing Verlander certainly will move the team a step closer to repeating as American League Champions.
With Justin Verlander likely off the list of available highly sought after starting pitchers, the free agent starting pitching class currently includes Max Scherzer, Marcus Stroman, Robbie Ray, Kevin Gausman, Corey Kluber, Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Rodon, and Anthony DeSclafani. Highly regarded lefty Eduardo Rodriguez signed a multi-year contract with the Detroit Tigers. Noah Snydergaard signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Houston Astros were bound and determined to keep Verlander, and they offered him a significant contract to retain his services. Reportedly, they are on the brink of re-signing their ace.
While Verlander is returning from Tommy John surgery, his showcase event for scouts early in the offseason allowed the Astros the comfort of knowing he looks capable of returning to his All Star, and potential Hall of Fame form.
Given his outstanding track record as a true team “ace” for both the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros, eight-time All Star Justin Verlander will likely be able to keep his Houston Astros club in contention as a threat to win a World Championship.

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