Justin Verlander Aiming to Play Beyond 2021 Season, Current Astros Contract

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IFebruary 20, 2020

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws against the Washington Nationals during the first inning of Game 6 of the baseball World Series Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

There's very little that Justin Verlander hasn't accomplished in his MLB career, but the Houston Astros ace still wants more. 

"I owe it to myself, I owe it to the team I'm playing for and I owe it to everybody along the way that's helped me be where I am to give everything I've got to stay as good as I can and put in the work for as long as I can," Verlander told reporters Wednesday, one day before his 37th birthday.

The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner is under team control through the 2021 season.

Verlander revitalized his career when he was traded from the Detroit Tigers to Houston in August 2017. He had established himself as one of the best pitchers in modern history during his earlier years as a Tiger—earning the AL MVP, AL Cy Young and Triple Crown in 2011—but then struggled to bounce back from an offseason injury in 2014. 

"I look back at that now as kind of a necessary evil for my career," Verlander added Wednesday. "I learned a lot about my body and my process through that, and I'm just fortunate that I didn't severely hurt myself during that time and I was able to come out of it better on the other side."

Verlander's 2014 decline was detailed in an August 2018 profile by Bleacher Report's Brandon Sneed

"Verlander's problem was that he wasn't flexible. At all. That was the source of his pain, his rapid decline. It started long ago, [Dr. Annie Gow] said. Old tissue, left untended, had built up around bones and joints in his feet and ankles. Then it spread upward from there. To compensate for his decreasing range of motion, Verlander had been slowly changing his movements every season until essentially he was throwing just using his arm."

That was all resolved by the time he joined the Astros. The 2004 second overall pick went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 0.65 WHIP to round out the regular season before winning ALCS MVP with two starts that saw him strike out 21 batters and post a 0.56 ERA against the New York Yankees.

The Astros went on to win the 2017 World Series, which is now controversial after MLB released findings last month from an investigation that discovered Houston illegally utilized in-game technology to steal opponents' signs throughout that season.

Last season, Verlander showed he's aging gracefully by leading MLB in wins (21), games started (34), innings pitched (223) and WHIP (0.80). He also notched a 2.58 ERA. 

Verlander will be as important as ever to the Astros in 2020 after Gerrit Cole opted to sign a record-breaking nine-year contract with the Yankees in free agency.

Related

    Report: MLB Teams Will 'Run as Usual' Through April Amid Hiatus

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Report: MLB Teams Will 'Run as Usual' Through April Amid Hiatus

    Blake Schuster
    via Bleacher Report

    HR Derby Replacing Extra Innings?

    Dodgers' Justin Turner has a fun suggestion for cutting down on game time

    MLB logo
    MLB

    HR Derby Replacing Extra Innings?

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report

    Evan Gattis: We 'Cheated' Baseball and Fans

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Evan Gattis: We 'Cheated' Baseball and Fans

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report

    Scout on Brien Taylor: 'The Best Pitcher I Ever Saw'

    The story of the Yankees' 1991 No. 1 overall pick who never made the bigs

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Scout on Brien Taylor: 'The Best Pitcher I Ever Saw'

    MLB.com
    via MLB.com