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Elephant Rumblings: Justin Verlander will have Tommy John surgery

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Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

The Houston Astros have been without reigning Cy Young winner Justin Verlander almost all season, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

The 37-year-old superstar announced Saturday on Instagram that he will undergo Tommy John surgery, after experiencing a setback in a recent simulated game during his rehab from a forearm strain.

The effects of this news have multiple layers. In the immediate term, the right-hander was working back to a potential return for the 2020 postseason. That might even have meant pitching against the Oakland A’s, who are currently the likeliest first-round opponent for the Astros in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. Now there will be no such October surprise for Houston.

Furthermore, Verlander will presumably miss the entire 2021 season. Recovery from TJS takes a minimum of one full year, and it’s already late September right now, so the more realistic goal is to prepare for Opening Day of 2022. He’ll turn 39 that February.

And finally, when Verlander does return, it may well be in a different uniform. His contract with the Astros ends after 2021, with a hefty $33 million price tag in that final season, so he’ll need to sign a new one (there or elsewhere) by the time he’s healthy and ready to play again.

Of course, don’t write off Verlander yet despite this major surgery. He’s already defied the odds of the aging curve by making it this far, and it should surprise no one if he works his way back from this latest obstacle and resumes mowing down batters. When it comes to this level of superstar talent, it ain’t over till it’s over.

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