Justin Verlander hasn’t thrown a pitch for the Detroit Tigers since the middle of the 2017 season.
It’s still an event when Verlander, who helped the Tigers reach two World Series, starts against his former team.
He’ll take the mound for the visiting Houston Astros on Sunday.
Verlander has started against his original team five times, going 2-3 with a 3.18 ERA.
He lost his only start against them while wearing a New York Mets uniform in May, allowing two runs in five innings. Riley Greene and Javier Baez hit solo homers off him.
“We thought we were done with Justin when we played the Mets (in May) and here we are seeing him again,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “I’ll counter with Miggy in the lineup (Sunday). Give you a nice little Miggy/Verlander story.”
Miggy, of course, is designated hitter Miguel Cabrera, another future Hall of Famer who is retiring at the end of the season.
Verlander signed a two-year contract with the Mets as a free agent during the offseason. When New York’s season fell apart, he got traded back to the Astros.
“It was weird,” he said. “I heard somebody say it’s like I had a summer abroad. It’s kind of what it feels like. I enjoyed my experience with the Mets. It’s just crazy how fast it happened. Nobody could’ve seen that happening.”
Verlander has posted quality starts in three of his four outings since the trade. His last start was perhaps his best this season, as he held Boston scoreless for six innings and notched nine strikeouts on Tuesday.
His former manager with the Astros believes the trade has brought out the best in Verlander.
“I think he’s getting rejuvenated being (in) the race,” Hinch said. “And being back in a familiar place with some familiar teammates. The spotlight is on him and he loves that. He usually rises to the occasion.”
Right-hander Alex Faedo (2-4, 4.91) will start the series finale for Detroit. Faedo has three no-decisions this month.
He sports a strong WHIP (0.97) and continued to limit baserunners in his last start.
He gave up three hits and walked two in six innings against the Chicago Cubs on Monday. He allowed four runs but only two were earned.
“Errors happen. I’ll never be mad at these guys,” Faedo said of the unearned runs. “These guys save my (behind) all the time and play really hard each and every day. After that, it doesn’t matter anymore and we move forward. I tried to eat as many innings as I could.”
The six-inning stint equaled his season high.
“I thought it was pretty gutsy because he didn’t have his best stuff,” Hinch said. “He threw a couple sliders that backed up on him, and he threw a couple fastballs in the middle. To get us through the innings that he did, I thought that was really important.”
He will be facing the Astros for the first time.
Houston bounced back from Detroit’s walk-off victory on Friday with a 9-2 win on Saturday. Alex Bregman was the batting star with two doubles and a home run. Bregman drove in four runs and scored three times.
—Field Level Media
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