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Sport Justin Verlander, facing Tommy John surgery at 37, will attempt to do the impossible

03:30  20 september  2020
03:30  20 september  2020 Source:   thescore.com

Rangers pitching prospect Ricky Vanasco to undergo Tommy John surgery

  Rangers pitching prospect Ricky Vanasco to undergo Tommy John surgery Vanasco was a 15th-round pick in 2017 but turned heads last year when he pitched to a combined 1.81 ERA with a 75-to-25 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings (11 total appearances — all starts). He’d likely have ascended to Double-A in 2020 under circumstances, but spent the season working out at the alternate training site in the absence of a minor-league campaign. As such, Vanasco wasn’t completely deprived of developmental work in 2020, but it’s nevertheless still a notable setback in the promising young righty’s path to big league readiness that he’ll go two years without pitching in a truly competitive setting.

The final act of Justin Verlander's marvelous career has arguably been his finest. Over the past few seasons, after seemingly settling into his decline phase following a brilliant peak in Detroit, the veteran right-hander looked born anew with the Houston Astros, recapturing lost velocity and re-establishing himself as a bona fide ace. As recently as last summer, it seemed like Verlander could pitch well into his 40s and ultimately cement himself in the coming years as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

After denying report he’ll miss rest of season, Justin Verlander will miss rest of season, needs Tommy John surgery

  After denying report he’ll miss rest of season, Justin Verlander will miss rest of season, needs Tommy John surgery Back in late July, the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome reported that Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander would be out for the remainder of the season. Not only did the team push back against that report but Verlander himself took to Twitter to deny that he was shut down for the rest of 2020. The report Read more The post After denying report he’ll miss rest of season, Justin Verlander will miss rest of season, needs Tommy John surgery appeared first on The Comeback.

a baseball player throwing a pitch © Bob Levey / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Suddenly, though, his future is in jeopardy. Verlander, who made one start in 2020 before landing on the injured list with what was described as a forearm strain, announced Saturday he needs Tommy John surgery to repair the damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

To his credit, Verlander, who is almost guaranteed to miss the entire 2021 season, was unfazed, saying he "will not let this slow down my aspirations for my career."

Still, his resolve notwithstanding, the task ahead is a daunting one. Verlander turned 37 in February. The history of pitchers his age or older having their UCL's surgically repaired is overwhelmingly bleak. While the eight-time All-Star may be able to will his way back to the majors at 39, it's likely, in the event he does return, Verlander won't ever be the same again.

Rockies to promote former All-Star AJ Ramos

  Rockies to promote former All-Star AJ Ramos The Rockies are preparing to call right-hander AJ Ramos up to their active roster.After a couple of false starts, it looks like Ramos is finally set to make his return to the majors after almost 28 months.  The righty underwent shoulder surgery in 2018 after a rough 19 2/3 innings with the Mets that season, and he was off the radar until this summer, when he inked minor league deals with both the Dodgers and Cubs.  Neither of those contracts led to a major league call-up, however, and the Rockies signed Ramos to yet another minors deal after the Cubs released him in early September.

In the nearly five decades since Dr. Frank Jobe revitalized veteran left-hander Tommy John's career with the experimental ligament-reconstruction procedure, almost 2,000 professional ballplayers have had it done, according to analyst Jon Roegele, with the vast majority being pitchers. From that group of nearly 2,000, only 10 had the surgery after turning 37, or less than 1%. That's a minuscule fraction that hints at the improbability of returning healthy and still being effective after undergoing such a major procedure at such an advanced age.

On the one hand, every pitcher who underwent Tommy John surgery at age 37 or older - all of whom were well-established big leaguers - eventually made it back to the majors, with half of them returning to the mound within the typical 12-14 month recovery timeline or faster. Most of those pitchers, however, were relievers at that point in their careers. While several of them enjoyed some success pitching in relief after returning, neither of the two starting pitchers who underwent Tommy John surgery at age 37 or older were effective starters again.

Padres activate 1B Eric Hosmer off IL

  Padres activate 1B Eric Hosmer off IL Hosmer has been fantastic through 128 plate appearances this season, hitting .288/.344/.552 with eight home runs. That’s a notable step up from the roughly average offensive production the big-ticket free agent acquisition managed his first two seasons in Southern California. The 33-19 Padres are essentially locked in as the fourth seed in the National League, and Hosmer will have a little more than a week to ramp back up before the start of the postseason. Patiño has scuffled in his first 14.2 MLB innings, but he’s one of the game’s brightest young pitching talents.

Bronson Arroyo, the colorful junkballer whose recovery took almost three years due to multiple setbacks, was so ineffective, at age 40, he lasted only a half-season. He stumbled to a 7.35 ERA in 14 starts for the Cincinnati Reds in 2017 before getting released. Arroyo didn't pitch in the big leagues again. Jamie Moyer, the left-hander renowned for his mind-boggling longevity, managed a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts with the Colorado Rockies in 2012 following his surgery and similarly earned an early-summer release. He didn't pitch in the bigs again, either.

Neither of those pitchers, of course, were Verlander. He was one of the game's most dominant starters as recently as 2019 when he authored a 2.58 ERA (179 ERA+) over 34 starts for the Astros while leading the majors in WHIP (0.80) and innings pitched (223) and setting a career high in strikeouts (300) en route to his second Cy Young award. In the game's history, few starters have ever been as exceptional as Verlander through their early-to-mid 30s: only 10 pitchers racked up more WAR from ages 33 through 36 than Verlander, who was traded to Houston late in 2017. If Verlander were to return to the big leagues in 2022 and be even close to as dominant as he was before surgery, it would be unprecedented. Frankly, it would be unprecedented if he was even good enough to hang around for a second season as a starter, post-surgery. In committing to this comeback, Verlander is, in a sense, attempting the impossible.

Phillies prospect Adonis Medina expected to make MLB debut Sunday

  Phillies prospect Adonis Medina expected to make MLB debut Sunday -

"I will approach this rehab the only way I know: attack and don’t look back," Verlander said. "I'm confident that with a proper rehabilitation program and my unwavering commitment that this surgery will ultimately lengthen my career as opposed to shortening it."

Surely, someone will give him a chance to start come 2022, barring a setback in his recovery. His current contract with the Astros expires after next season, but finding a job two springs from now will be the easy part for Verlander, whose pedigree and experience will attract a bevy of suitors.

The hard part, if history is any indication, will be keeping that job. While Verlander has been consistently exceptional throughout his 16-year career, never before has it been such an existential imperative.

Jonah Birenbaum is theScore's senior MLB writer. He steams a good ham. You can find him on Twitter @birenball.

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Pinder delivers timely hit, A's advance in playoffs at last .
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Athletics ended 14 years of postseason futility, riding Chad Pinder's go-ahead, two-run single in the fifth inning and repeated costly walks by Chicago's relievers to rally past the White Sox 6-4 on Thursday and win the decisive third game of their AL wild-card round series. © APWF Oakland Athletics' Khris Davis hits a single off Chicago White Sox pitcher Evan Marshall in front of cutouts seated at Oakland Coliseum during the sixth inning of Game 3 of an American League wild-card baseball series Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in Oakland, Calif.

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