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Astros: Verlander, Osuna will attempt to pitch this season

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JULY 19: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches during an intrasquad game as they continue with Summer Workouts at Minute Maid Park on July 19, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - JULY 19: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches during an intrasquad game as they continue with Summer Workouts at Minute Maid Park on July 19, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Houston Astros pitchers Justin Verlander and Roberto Osuna will attempt to return this season.

It’s no secret that the Houston Astros pitching staff has been decimated by injuries this season. Two of the most notable ones are ace Justin Verlander and closer Roberto Osuna. While it’s been thought that both are in need of Tommy John surgery, it seems now that both will attempt to return later on this year.

MLB.com reported that Verlander hopes to resume throwing next week after he’d been shut down following his Opening Day start. From the beginning, he was insistent that he wasn’t done for the year, going to so far as to refute the Houston Chronicle’s report that he was out of the season.

He was officially diagnosed with a forearm strain, which is usually code for an elbow issue, so many have assumed that Tommy John surgery is on the table. But it’s not an ideal scenario for someone who’s 37 years old, so it’s understandable that he’s doing all he can to try and avoid undergoing a procedure that would cost him an entire season.

With that being the case, it’s worth a shot. Even if the surgery is inevitable, he’d miss all of next season regardless of whether he has it now or after this season is done. If he’s able to come back and contribute, similar to how Lance McCullers Jr did in 2018, why not? The Astros could certainly use him, even if he’s only able to pitch in relief.

Of course it’ll be a while before we’ll see Verlander in the majors, as he’ll need several weeks to get himself ready to pitch in a game again. If the team intends on using him in the rotation, it would take even longer. But there’s time for him to come back before the playoffs if he’s able to.

Once and Future Closer?

The same can be said for Osuna, who was recommended to undergo Tommy John surgery. Manager Dusty Baker said on Wednesday that Osuna is shut down for a couple of weeks and that the hope is for him to rehab and be available later this season.

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As is the case with Verlander, there’s not much to lose by trying to contribute later this season and then have surgery once the team is finished. Osuna, if he does go under the knife, will miss all of next season and likely be non-tendered by the Astros as a result, as he’s due to be a free agent after 2021 anyway.

Other injured pitchers, namely Chris Devenski, Brad Peacock and Jose Urquidy, are throwing off the mound and thus are on their way back. The Astros will badly need these reinforcements, as their bullpen has been abysmal lately. But when you have nine rookies in tow, that’s bound to be what happens.

If Verlander and Osuna are able to return, however unlikely that may be, Baker might be able to cobble together a pitching staff for a playoff run. If a few rookies can flourish and the position players can stay healthy, anything is possible.

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