Mets' Justin Verlander: 'Everything felt good' physically in first start off the IL
Nearly five weeks later than Justin Verlander was originally scheduled to make his first start of the season, the right-hander finally made his Mets debut on Thursday against the Tigers in Detroit.
Though he got off to a shaky start in the first inning, he ultimately settled in and showed why the Mets brought him in to pitch at the front end of their rotation.
After starting the season on the IL due to a teres major injury, Verlander was solid in his debut, allowing two earned runs on five hits over his five innings of work, striking out five and walking one.
The only real trouble he came across was in the first inning, when Riley Greene and Javier Baez hit back-to-back solo home runs, which proved to be the only runs scored all afternoon in a 2-0 Tigers win.
“I was really happy with Justin today,” Buck Showalter said after the game. “That was a real highlight to see him work his way through five. We were going to try to keep him around the 80 (pitch) mark, so didn’t want him to get up again. But he’s in a good part of the progress now, and he and Max (Scherzer) both got built up something last night, so I hope it goes forward from there.”
Though he had one fastball clock in at 93 MPH in the first inning, Verlander’s velocity routinely sat around 95-96 MPH after that. And in his final inning of work, the fifth, Verlander hit 97 MPH on the gun, showing off his typical style of getting stronger as the game goes on.
And perhaps most importantly, Verlander said he came out of the game feeling healthy.
“Everything felt good,” Verlander said. “No issues, physically. It felt like as the game went along, the velocity started to come a little bit too. So physically, overall, it was a good day.”
“The good thing is he felt good physically,” said Showalter. “That was a highlight of the day.”
The Mets have hit a rough patch, losing nine out of their last 11 games and three straight to a Tigers team that came into the series as the worst offensive team in baseball.
As Verlander said, the Mets have played good baseball at different times this season, but they haven’t yet matched up pitching well with hitting well.
Still, if there is a silver lining from this series, the Mets have their co-aces, Verlander and Scherzer, back on the mound and building back up to their Cy Young selves, even if the early returns aren’t quite there.